Latest News

Microsoft Office for iPad hits 12M App Store downloads in a week

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Well, that was fast. Just one week after launching its Office suite of apps for the iPad, Microsoft announced via a tweet yesterday that they have already surpassed 12 million downloads. This number also includes legacy OneNote downloads, and Microsoft didn’t provide numbers on each app’s contribution to the overall total, but the achievement is still very impressive.

Office for iPad is notable in that Microsoft completely rebuilt the apps from the ground up for the iPad rather than porting from Windows. Each app also contains iPad-specific features, as well as cross-platform file fidelity. Taking advantage of these features requires a $99/year Office 365 subscription, however, as only reading and presentation support are offered in the free version.

Have you downloaded Office for iPad? Are you willing to purchase an Office 365 subscription to take full advantage of the app suite? What do you think of the iPad specific features?

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Google Opinion Rewards for Android now available to Canadians

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If you’re into giving feedback, this is right up your alley. Google Opinion Rewards for Android is now available for Canadians, giving the chance to offer up a bit of your intelligence via surveys in exchange for some Google Play credits.

Those interested in participating must have an Android device running OS 2.3.3 or higher and Google will “send you surveys around once a week, although it may be more or less frequent. You’ll get a notification on your phone when a short and relevant survey is ready for you, and can receive up to $1.00 USD (or local equivalent) in Play credits for completing it. Questions can range from, ‘Which logo is best?’ and ‘Which promotion is most compelling?’ to ‘When do you plan on traveling next?’”

Pretty simple and might be worth it.

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Meet the team behind Google’s Project Ara

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Forget Google Glass (sorry, Tom) and self-driving cars: Project Ara may be Google’s most exciting future product. One of two projects under development in the former Motorola ATAP group, Project Ara promises the globe a modular and upgradable smartphone at a base price of $50.

Google has been slowly peeling back the curtain on Project Ara as it ramps up towards the first Ara Developers Conference later this month. The company recently gave an extended technology demo of Project Ara at the LAUNCH Conference in San Francisco. Yesterday, in partnership with Phonebloks, Google shed light on the team behind the project.

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Google Search expands app indexing to Canadian Android devices, adds over 20 apps including 500px and Wattpad

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Google announced the ability to do “deep linking” from Android search results to apps last year, but the project was only available in the US. Today, that functionality has expanded worldwide, including Canada, and the company has added over 20 new apps to participate in the program.

What is deep linking? It allows developers to insert their apps into web results, which users can then click to directly access that portion of the app. This quickly opens the program to that article or review or show, much like Google allows users to quickly access Google Play downloads from search results.

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comScore: Android owns 44% of the Canadian smartphone market, BlackBerry sinks to 15%

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A new report from comScore shows a number of new Canadian mobile stats. The annual report, called “2014 Canada Digital Future in Focus,” unsurprisingly reveals smartphone usage is up by 13% compared to last year, now reaching three out of every four mobile users.

Similar to last year, comScore reports conflicting mobile stats to the CRTC. The research firm says, “mobile subscribers grew by 5% in Canada year over year to more than 23 million,” but the CRTC states just over 30 million for 2013. Regardless, usage is up.

Manufacturers are not listed, but the OS standings give a good understanding of where some of the players stand. Google’s Android claimed top spot with 44% of the Canadian smartphone market, up 4% over last year. Apple’s iOS also rose a couple points to 37%. Unfortunately these were at the expense of BlackBerry, once the leader, which felt the struggle and dropped by 5% to 15% of the Canadian share. Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS stayed put at 2% smartphone market share.

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Bell to exclusively release the Alcatel OneTouch Pop 7 tablet

Alcatel OneTouch Pop 7 Tablet - mobilesyrup

Bell and Alcatel OneTouch recently formed a partnership that saw the OneTouch Idol X and OneTouch Idol mini launch in Canada. According to an internal doc we received, it seems the two are coming together once again, but this time to release a 7-inch tablet.

This is coming exclusively to Bell and will hit stores on Tuesday, April 15th. The retail price is set at a low $179.95 outright.

(Thanks tipster!)

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Facebook Messenger 4.0 for Android improves group messaging, adds homescreen shortcuts

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Coming out of beta, Facebook Messenger 4.0 for Android has added some fantastic new features to complement an already-robust ecosystem of web- and mobile chat apps.

Messenger 4.0 adds Groups, letting you curate an extended number of people for easy messaging. Existing group chats already populate the area, and can be saved for later in a grouping or dismissed outright.

Users can also forward messages or photos to Messenger contacts outside of a conversation, a useful feature that has been popular in other apps for some time. (more…)

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FireChat ‘off-the-grid’ messaging app now available for Android and iOS

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As the mobile messaging space becomes ever more crowded, true differentiation is required to rise to the top of the app charts. FireChat, which released an Android version today to match its recently launched iOS app, certainly fits the bill. Dubbed by developer Open Garden as an “off-the-grid” messenger, FireChat enables communication without the need for a network connection, or even cellular coverage.

FireChat takes advantage of mesh networking technology, which allows mobile devices to connect peer-to-peer via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi direct, Internet connections be damned. While FireChat was able to take advantage of Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework for the iOS version of the app, no such framework currently exists for Android, so they built one themselves.

FireChat has two main conversation modes: “Nearby” mode, which is for private conversations with those close-by, and “Everyone” mode, which functions like a global ICQ chatroom (with everything that implies). The effective range for offline “Nearby” conversations is around 30 feet, which will expand as more users adopt the app. Unfortunately, iPhone and Android users cannot speak to each other while off-the-grid, as the two mesh networks are not currently compatible.

Still, FireChat is at the very least a unique app, and one that could provide significant utility in emergency situations where cellular connectivity can be spotty. Give the app a try and let us know if you prefer your conversations on or off the grid.

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Update: WIND goes live with new monthly plans, offers ‘a plethora of new unlimited options’

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At the end of 2013 WIND Mobile reported a total subscriber base of 676,209. According to the latest release, WIND Mobile’s “customer base exceeds the 700,000 active subscriber mark.” The company also noted that they experienced “record Q1 sales” and as a celebration they’ve decided to add more value to its monthly plans. The changes will go into place on April 7th and the $20 and $30 plans climb by $5 each, similar to other carriers, but now brings Canada-wide calling on both. The handset subsidy on the $35/month plan will now be $150, was previously $100.

In addition, a new plan will be available for $60/ month that includes unlimited Data, Talk, Text, in Canada and across the U.S.A, Voicemail+, World Saver plus a $500 handset subsidy or service credits. (more…)

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Vine adds private messaging feature on Android and iOS

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Vine has reached its version 2.0 milestone by adding an important feature that the Twitter-owned startup hopes will spur adoption: messaging.

Like Instagram before it, Vine’s private messaging feature revolves around adapting the core purpose of the app, in this case stitched-together 6-second video clips, for private chat. Users are now exposed to a new section of the app, which shows their entire contact list, even those not using Vine. The company hopes that this will encourage users to install the app if they haven’t already. While

Unlike Instagram Direct, which relies entirely on photos and videos, Vine Messages encourages text sharing, too, much like any traditional messaging channel. Vine Messages, or VMs for short, generate the same filming UI as before — which has been altered slightly on both iOS and Android — and, once finished, the message can be sent to one or multiple users. Group chat isn’t allowed for now, so sending the VM to multiple users will generate separate chat windows using the same Vine as a jumping off point. (more…)

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