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


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.


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


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…)


Vine adds private messaging feature on Android and iOS


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…)


Bell first in Canada to launch 700Mhz LTE service, beginning with Hamilton, Ontario


Bell will be rolling out 700Mhz LTE connectivity in Upper Hamilton this week, the first Canadian carrier to make use of the newly-available spectrum. Yesterday was the deadline for companies to pay the remaining 80% balance of their purchase (the first 20% was due shortly after the auction’s end), so Bell’s turnaround time is quite impressive.

If you recall, Bell spent $565.8 million for 31 licenses across a number of bands: they managed to snatch primo A+B Paired Blocks in Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario; C Block spectrum in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and Southern Ontario; Upper C2 Block spectrum in most of Quebec, the Prairie provinces, Alberta and BC; and unpaired D and E Blocks in parts of the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and the Territories.

While Bell purchased the highest number of individual licenses, at 31, they got fewer prime blocks in high-population areas. The company will likely continue their tower sharing deal with TELUS in parts of the country.



Ontario just passed its own wireless code, promises stronger enforcement than CRTC version


Ontario’s Wireless Services Agreements Act, also known as Bill 60, is now in effect across the province. With similar measures taken to the CRTC’s Wireless Code of Conduct, the biggest difference is enforcement: the CRTC’s Code is a set of guidelines, whereas the WSAA contains within it the power to fine individuals or companies that don’t comply, up to $50,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Under the Act, which came into effect April 1st for all new and amended contracts, carriers must cap cancellation fees at $50, which complements the Wireless Code’s own rules for ECF’s on devices with no subsidy. Carriers must also inform customers whenever changes to a contract are made, or about to be made, and those who flout the rules will be forced to issue a refund for a year of service. (more…)


Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom leak shows thinner body, higher-resolution sensor


If last year was any indication, Samsung is set to release a number of variations on the flagship Galaxy S5. In 2013, we saw not only the GS4, but the GS4 Active, Mini and Zoom, and now the successor to that smartphone/camera hybrid has leaked.

Sporting much more encouraging specs than the GS4 Zoom, this year’s version looks to have a 4.8-inch 1280×720 pixel LCD display, a Hexacore (6-core) Exynos 5 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 20MP rear camera. It will also run Android 4.4.2 out of the box with a bevy of camera optimizations and modes not found on the Galaxy-series smartphones.

This year’s camera sensor looks likely to be the same size, 1/2.3-inches, with a slightly higher pixel count at 20MP. The lens is also slightly different, offering 4.4-44mm (10x) optical zoom with an f/3.3-6.7 aperture at 24mm equivalent.

The Galaxy S5 Zoom also has a less pronounced “hump” than its predecessor, which may make it more difficult to grip but should make it look far more like an actual smartphone. We’ll have to make our own decision when the device is launched later this year, but for now things are looking promising.

Source: SamMobile


LG G Flex now available at Rogers


One of the world’s first smartphones with a curved display is now available at Rogers. This is an exclusive release and this flagship 6-inch Android sports a top-to-bottom curve that is “designed to follow the curve of the human face.”

The LTE-enabled G Flex has a 720p OLED display, runs Android OS 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (hopefully KitKat is coming soon), a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera and 2.1MP front-facing camera, and a curved 3,500 mAh battery. The price of grabbing something unique is set at $199.99 on a 2-year or $649.99 retail.

Check out our review of the G Flex here.

Source: Rogers


Rogers close to discontinuing Moto X, removes it from online store


Rogers has removed the Moto X from its online portal prior to discontinuing the handset completely. Though there is still a general Motorola landing page for the device, it’s no longer possible to purchase the device online, and its landing page has been removed.

The Moto X was our favourite smartphone of 2013, and was just released in August. Rogers still stocks many older Android devices, including the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, so it would appear that either Motorola is readying a successor to the Moto X or, more likely, Rogers didn’t find the traction it wanted from its former exclusive.

The device has now transitioned to its more modest placing on the shelves of Fido and MTS, with the Moto G rounding out the company’s entry-level offering. According to a recent report, the Moto G brought Motorola’s UK market share from zero to above 6% in less than six months, proving the marketability of a well-rounded, low-cost Android device. (more…)


Apple’s WWDC developer conference taking place June 2-6 in San Francisco


Apple announced today that it’s WWDC developer conference will take place between Monday June 2nd and Friday June 6th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The regular site of Apple’s conference, the summer show usually coincides with the announcement of a new iOS version, along with minor updates to hardware like laptops. No new mobile hardware has been announced at WWDC since the iPhone 4 in 2010. This year, we’ll likely see our first glimpse of iOS 8, which looks to improve on the base of iOS 7 with a number of health- and fitness-focused features.

Registrants can apply starting today through April 7th, and like Google I/O this year winners will be selected via lottery, a process that will inevitably lead to disappointment, but will also prevent users from scrambling to get tickets.


Here’s the concept design of the reversible next-gen USB connector

Screenshot 2014-04-02 09.20.51

Last year, we heard that the next version of the USB standard will bring about a completely different plug and connector design, making it not only much smaller but reversible. This is the first big change in both male and female USB connectors since the standard was introduced in the mid-1990′s.

While the existing two “A” and “B” plug standards will still exist for backwards compatibility sake (and higher transfer speeds), the brand new “Type C” connector will look similar to today’s microUSB standard but feature a flat input design that can be plugged in both orientations. This is similar to the way Apple’s new Lightning connector works.