Daily Tech Briefing: April 21, 2014

The CTIA wireless association has finally agreed to support long-awaited anti-theft software for smartphones. Called a "Kill Switch," the software will be able to remotely wipe a user's data in the event his or her device is lost or stolen.

This agreement comes right on the heels of a report by Consumer Reports that a record number of phones were stolen in 2013. The software will also have the ability to prevent re-activation, render the device inoperable by unauthorized users and allow the phone to be put back into operation by entering a password or PIN.

Samsung and Apple have long been the smartphone market leaders, but now a new company may be throwing its hat into the ring. There are rumors that Amazon may be creating a smartphone. Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Marketing Group, explained that if Amazon does create a smartphone, it could be another gateway to enable customers to shop on the popular website even more frequently than they do now. He added that it's likely Amazon could make a very high-end phone to compete with Samsung and Apple.

IBM has launched a series of new initiatives to bolster its SoftLayer cloud computing effort. These include new disaster recovery and security services and new resources to support SoftLayer ecosystem members. What's more, IBM also announced the creation of a new SoftLayer Services & Solution Provider program.

This will streamline the SoftLayer hosting reseller and strategic partners program, with the goal of improving clarity of eligibility requirements and benefits of the program.

Finally, Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant tech can already speak, listen, decipher text queries and get to know users. But the company intends to continue to expand Cortana's capabilities. Microsoft Research Distinguished Engineer Larry Heck explained that the goal is for Cortana to support all types of human interaction so that interacting with it can be as simple as having a natural conversation.

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