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Canadians travelling to the U.S. can now rent smartphones with unlimited data and calling

Explora smartphone rental

Canadians travelling to the U.S. have a limited set of less than favourable options when it comes to using their smartphone. They can A) try to live off of Wi-Fi for the duration of their trip B) sign up for a travelling plan from their local carrier with marked up data prices C) try to snag a local U.S. SIM card D) suck it up and pay exorbitant roaming fees. Explora is now presenting a new option to jet setting Canadians: a rented smartphone with the requisite bells and whistles.

For $8 per day, international travellers can rent a Google Nexus 5 with unlimited data and nationwide calling. The phone is sent to a pre-specified hotel or residential address for easy pickup upon arrival, and can be returned via a pre-paid envelope once the trip is done. The Nexus 5 also comes pre-loaded with 40 apps, many of which you’d expect (Facebook, Google Maps, Skype, Expedia, etc.), and some feature special offers just for Explora customers (Taxi Magic, for example, knocks $10 off travellers’ first cab fare).

While the $8 flat fee will add up over extended trips, it’s perfect for a weekend jaunt to New York, and the convenience factor is significant. If Explora can improve the device selection and pre-loaded app offers, it might have a real winner. We’ll certainly give it a try during our next U.S. trip.

Via: Explora


Facebook now at 609M mobile daily active users, 59% of ad revenue from mobile


When Facebook initially filed its IPO back in 2012, it noted that mobile in general, and its capacity to monetize its mobile products in specific, were considerable risks to the company’s growth. Today Facebook released its Q1 2014 results, demonstrating just how much has changed in two years.

Facebook posted a revenue total of $2.5 billion during the quarter, a 72% increase year-over-year. $2.27 billion of that revenue came from advertising, of which mobile advertising represented 59%, a 30% increase year-over-year.

Mobile also played a big role in Facebook’s operational highlights. As of March 31st, Facebook now has 1.01 billion mobile monthly active users, an increase of 34% year-over-year, at an average of 609 million mobile daily active users. Facebook’s mobile growth far outpaced its total growth, which is now at 1.28 billion monthly active users, an increase of 15% year-over-year.

“Facebook’s business is strong and growing, and this quarter was a great start to 2014,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “We’ve made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business. We’re in great position to continue making progress towards our mission.”

Facebook will be hosting a conference call at 5pm EST today about its Q1 2014 results, and we’re sure mobile will be a hot topic of conversation.


Apple Q2 earnings: $11.62 EPS on $45.6 billion revenue, 43.7 million iPhones sold


Apple reported its Q2 2014 earnings this afternoon, and though the company erred on the conservative side of guidance, it earned record revenue and strong profit numbers.

The company earned $11.62 per share on revenue of $45.6 billion, walking away with $10.2 billion in net profit. The numbers, including strong gross margins of 39.3%, were up marginally from the same quarter last year.

Selling 43.7 million iPhones and 16.3 million iPads, Apple continued to show strong sales from a quarter that saw no new products. Though Cupertino doesn’t break down its sales by type of iPhone, it’s believed that the 5s outsells the 5c by a margin of two to one. Apple stated that 66% of the quarter’s revenues were from international markets, so much of the iPhone’s growth is from developing regions like China. The iPhone’s sales numbers got a small boost by a slightly lower average sales price (ASP) of $596, down slightly from a year ago. The likely cause is a boost in sales from older devices like the iPhone 4s and, to some extent, the iPhone 5c.

Though the iPhone’s sales continue to excel, increasing from 37.4 million to 43.7 million, iPad sales have dropped precipitously. Indeed, the company sold 19.5 million devices the same time last year, compared to just 16.3 million in Q2 2014. With a strong lineup of devices, including the refreshed iPad 4, the Retina iPad mini and the iPad Air, it appears that either customers are unsure how the iPad fits in with their existing workflow, or are choosing to buy cheaper Android tablets that do most of what an iPad does at a fraction of the cost. (more…)


Motorola reportedly prepping Moto E, a dual-core 720p Android device that’s 6.2mm thin


Motorola is reportedly attempting to transmute the essence of the Moto G into an even smaller, cheaper package. According to Xataka México, Motorola was impressed with the sales figures of the $200 Moto G and felt it necessary to draw down some of those extra costs.

The Moto E will reportedly cost around $150 USD, with a 4.3-inch 1280×720 pixel display, a 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, a 5MP camera, a 1900mAh battery cell, Android 4.4 KitKat and, of course, HSPA+ connectivity. (more…)


Griffin Merchant Case + Square Reader for iPhone now available to Canadians

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Square, the mobile commerce platform that was founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, recently unveiled a thinner Square Reader. This little gem enables entrepreneurs and small business owners to start accepting payments via their mobile device, and also brings the ability to track inventory and trends through Square Register.

During CES this year Griffin and Square announced the Merchant Case for the iPhone. This accessory is part of the “Works with Square” program and sees the dongle embedded into the case, which essentially provides a bit more protection. At the time of its unveiling the case was not available to Canadians, but it is now for a ripe $20. The Merchant Case is made of silicone and compatible with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. (more…)


HTC One M8 receives minor update, adds Extreme Power Saving Mode and camera enhancements

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The HTC One M8 is receiving a minor software update today, adding Extreme Power Saving Mode and a number of enhacements for the Camera and Gallery apps.

While citizens in other countries were able to use Extreme Power Saving Mode at launch, Canadians and their US counterparts had to wait on FCC approval for the update, since the device required additional testing to ensure that emergency calls were able to be routed in that low power state.



Minuum partners with Omate to bring its one-dimensional keyboard to the TrueSmart watch

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Android Wear has Google Now. Samsung Gear has S Voice. And now Omate has Minuum.

Minuum, the former Indiegogo champ, has succeeded in its quest to make forgiving and accurate typing possible on even the smallest of screens. The Omate TrueSmart watch is not the most recognizable name in wearables, but recently come off a successful Kickstarter campaign during which the company raised over $1 million to further its development.

The TrueSmart runs Android, and is in fact a standalone 3G-capable device that doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection to function. Minuum figures it can make typing considerably less painful by integrating its autocorrect algorithms and one-dimensional user interface with the input capabilities of Omate’s various apps.

TrueSmart uses a dual-core Cortex-A7 chip, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.2.2 to emulate the smartphone experience as much as possible, though its Omate UI skin is also quite good at hiding Android’s more size-sensitive elements. Minuum, along with other specialized apps, will be made available through a customized version of the Google Play Store.



Toronto-based XTouch wins Top App title and scores $1,000 prize

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Toronto-based XTouch developed technology that makes it possible for any surface to be touch-sensitive, thus extending its real estate past the limitations of the physical display.

We had some hands-on time with XTouch a few weeks ago and co-founder Amin Heidari stated that “Each surface responds differently depending on its physical structure. From the device perspective, these two taps… knocking the small wooden table in front of me in two spots sound completely different, which is how the app knows to respond a certain way.”

XTouch is seeing some positive feedback as they’ve claimed the title of Top App from the University of Toronto’s 2014 Mobile App Lab Demo Night, plus scored a $1,000 prize. The XTouch tech is currently embedded in two different apps within iTunes — Voodoo Tap Frogs and Magic Xylophone — with more apparently on the way.

Check out our full write up about XTouch here, or the video below. (more…)


Viber for iPhone gets a long-awaited design overhaul


Viber, a popular messaging and VoIP service available across nearly every computing platform, has seen its iOS app updated with a brand new look and feel.

Version 4.2 introduces a flat, iOS 7-friendly design that comes months after competitors WhatsApp, Kik, BBM and others did the same. Still, for Viber’s 100 million users, many of which are on iOS, this will be a big benefit.

Viber has a Canadian connection: it was purchased by Rakuten, the owners of Toronto-based Kobo, in February for $900 million. Rakuten is trying to integrate Viber’s messaging and social features into its broader library of software, but right now is mainly focused on offering the the best customer experience possible.

Other features include the ability to send multiple photos and videos to a contact at the same time; a new block list to repel any phone number or contact; the ability to send longer video messages; and lots of bug fixes.

Do you use Viber? If so, why over another service?

SourceApp Store



Bell Sony Xperia Z2 now available for pre-order, costs $179.95 on a 2-year term


The Bell Sony Xperia Z2 is coming soon, likely on May 5th, and today the carrier opened pre-orders for the flagship.

Available for $179.95 on a 2-year term and $699.95 outright, the Bell version of the phone will be a carrier exclusive, but Sony assures us that the high-performance device will also be sold unlocked in Sony Stores for around $699.

The Xperia Z2 is another great phone from Sony, one that we’re calling “a winner” even before its release. While the specs belie the cumulative improvements, it’s clear that the Z2, with its 5.2-inch IPS LCD display, 2.3Ghz Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, 20.7MP rear camera and 3,200mAh battery, is a very powerful smartphone. Whether it can take eyeballs away from the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 remains to be seen, but we’re looking forward to putting the device through its paces in the coming weeks.