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Chrome for Android now displays desktop pages more clearly

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Google has updated Chrome for Android and iOS today, bringing some much-need improvements to the way the former renders desktop pages.

The company’s browser has quickly been gaining steam on mobile devices, especially since it is now installed by default on all new Google-certified products. Chrome 36 for Android brings generic performance improvements and bug fixes, but also makes non-mobile pages look better across all screen sizes and resolutions. It does this by determining how much anti-aliasing to use, depending on the font being rendered and the device’s hardware acceleration capabilities. (more…)

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Airbnb for iOS and Android gets UX overhaul as part of company rebranding

Airbnb for iPhone

Airbnb unveiled a major rebranding effort this week, complete with new colour scheme and company logo (check out this great Fast Company profile for more information on the rebranding process). As part of the rebranding, Airbnb has also dropped new versions of its iOS and Android apps. The new versions are more than a simple palette swap, featuring a total UX (user experience) overhaul designed to make listings more appealing and help travellers quickly find the information they need.

The updated apps follow the current mobile trend towards flat design, and place great emphasis on large beautiful photos broken only by small blocks of text. Airbnb’s Discover feed now takes into account more information about a user’s immediate location, prioritizing nearby listings and destination locations. It’s beautiful and easy to navigate, but I took minor offence at being presented Ottawa as a destination getaway (sorry, O-Town. You know I love you).

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Mobilicity unveils new Data and Voice Canada Roaming pricing

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Struggling wireless carrier Mobilicity was recently granted creditor protection until September 26th. Upon that date, we’ll discover the fate of the company, which revealed in a court document it has 155,000 active subscribers.

In what could be a early back-to-school promotion, or possibly one last kick at the can, Anthony Booth, Mobilicity’s CEO, has teased Canadians “amazing new domestic roaming rates launching this Thursday.” Of course, the Tweet left a great deal to the imagination about pricing, minutes and data. We’re hearing that Mobi will come to market with a revision of its current offering, just adding in more for less, with three add-on prices: $5, $10, and $20. (more…)

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Update: Rogers and TELUS will no longer share customer information without a court order

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Following a Supreme Court decision last month, Rogers has made revisions to its policy regarding the sharing of customer information with law enforcement agencies. Upholding Canadians’ rights to online privacy, the Supreme Court ruled in June that police will now require judicial authorization before asking Internet providers for information identifying their customers.

After reviewing the ruling Rogers, has modified its policy to restrict information sharing, and will no longer share such information without “lawful authority”, such as a court order or warrant, except in cases of life-saving emergency. (more…)

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Jawbone’s UP and UP24 app adds contextual health data, food tracking

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Jawbone has announced an update for its iOS companion app that allows users to track their diet as well as their exercise and sleep. Launched in 2011, Jawbone’s Up hit the market ahead of the wearables craze. The issue is now that we have Android Wear, the Galaxy Gear, and Pebble, devices like the UP and the UP24 start to look a little one dimensional in terms of functionality. (more…)

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Visa launches Visa Checkout, a device-agnostic payment service with iOS and Android SDKs, Canadian availability

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On a still-unfinished floor of its expansive new One Market headquarters in downtown San Francisco today, Visa unveiled Visa Checkout, its attempt to simplify and expedite online and mobile payments. The move is meant to make it easier for both consumers and merchants to plug into the robust Visa network, which processes 43% of all Canadian e-commerce transactions today.

Replacing the confusing and under-utilized V.me, Visa Checkout “is not a wallet,” according to CEO Charlie Scharf, but a representation of where the company is moving in facilitating all kinds of payments. “Payments are no longer done with just a plastic card; financial institutions are no longer the only endpoints.”

The idea behind Checkout is take the friction away from digital payments, either in a browser or a mobile app. The announcement coincides with a new button that will appear on the pages of select Canadian retailers: ClearlyContacts.ca, Cineplex Entertainment, Beyond the Rack, World Vision, and Cymax Canada are launch partners, with lululemon, Staples Canada, Ticketmaster, Newegg.ca and Tigerdirect coming in next few months.

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Tab brings its mobile restaurant payment solution to Android

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Take a good, hard look for Tab in the Google Play Store, and instead you’ll come across myriad ways to play “Stairway to Heaven” on a guitar.

But once you’ve overcome the SEO calamity of this mobile restaurant payment app from the Toronto development team previously behind Huddlers and Chime, you’ll find a great new way to split, share and pay for meals in some of the city’s best restaurants.

Launching on Android this week, co-founder Adam Epstein told me that the number of restaurants supported by the check in-based solution has doubled in the three months since the iPhone release, from 12 to 24, with more coming soon. The company has transacted close to $100,000 in bills, denoting a slow but steady climb from obscurity. (more…)

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OtterBox partners with Nina Garcia for fashionable Symmetry Series case

OtterBox Symmetry Series Brazilian Pop for Nina Garcia

When OtterBox announced its new Symmetry Series of cases earlier this year, the company really pushed the whole ‘fashion and function’ thing. OtterBox cases don’t have the best reputation for being very stylish, but the Symmetry Series sought to change that with a moulded plastic and rubber design in a range of fun colours. Now, the company is taking things one step further with a collaboration with Colombian fashion journalist and critic Nina Garcia. (more…)

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Poll: Half of GTHA transit users would ‘likely’ use smartphone to pay

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As Metrolinx’ PRESTO Card system continues its slow and steady roll out across the GTA, it seems a significant portion of transit passengers are actually ready to use their phones to pay for their journeys. Or at least they think they are.

According to a poll carried out  by Forum Research Inc., 50 percent of regular transit passengers said they were likely to pay with their smartphone and 32 percent of those people said they were either extremely likely or very likely to use their mobile device to pay for their trip. Those numbers sound pretty encouraging, but ‘likely’ to pay by smartphone and actually paying by smartphone are two very different things. Forum Research’s poll goes on to report that only 14 percent of those surveyed are currently using their smartphones to pay for anything.

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BlackBerry announces Siri-like Assistant for upcoming 10.3 release

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BlackBerry continues to sing the praises of its as-yet-unreleased Passport smartphone. The device has been getting a lot of press for its unique design and BlackBerry doesn’t want you to miss the fact that people are talking about its brave attempt to produce a game-changing phone. The latest bout of chest-thumping switches things up a bit, focusing not on the hardware but the software. This comes via the official Inside BlackBerry blog, which today introduced us to the BlackBerry Assistant app, BlackBerry’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri. (more…)

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