Latest News

Google Maps for Android update adds elevation data for cyclists, let’s you talk back to Navigation

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Google is pushing out an update for Google Maps for Android that will make things a little bit easier for cyclists planning their journeys. Now, when you go to plan a route, it will show you the elevation for each of your route options. If you don’t like it, you can always switch to another, less mountainous route for your commute.

Google is also adding voice voice actions in navigation mode. This feature will let you ask Google different questions about your route along the way. You might want to know when (or what) the next turn is, or how long until you reach your destination. To find out, you just tap the little microphone icon on the bottom right and ask Google, “How long until I arrive?” Google will respond with the amount of time until your destination, information that was already offered in text form via Navigation. You can also use voice actions to turn certain features on and off, like traffic. (more…)

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BlackBerry Passport aims to be a miniature laptop with a keyboard that doubles as a mouse

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Talking about the BlackBerry Passport — positively or otherwise — is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Think what you will about the device’s massive square screen real estate, its divisive shape is certainly garnering attention. BlackBerry has even consolidated some of that positive consumer sentiment in blog posts.

John Chen thinks that the Passport will be exactly what business users want from a smartphone, and he may have a secret weapon to reinforce his message: a keyboard that doubles as a trackpad, similar to a laptop’s. (more…)

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Sony SmartBand review

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As evidenced by the early arrival of the SmartWatch, Sony is unafraid to dip its toes into new territory.

Announced at CES this year, the SmartBand is the company’s first foray into fitness and health tracking, employing its Core sensor in one of what will eventually be many variations.

But as smart watch platforms from Google, Samsung and Pebble usurp some of the functionality of a dedicated health tracker, is there room for a product like the $99 SmartBand? Let’s find out. (more…)

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Overcast kicks your podcasting experience up a notch with faster playback

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Podcast apps are a dime a dozen, but the vast majority offer a suite of very similar features. Overcast is hoping to offer something a little bit different. To get the full effect, you’ll need to shell out the five bucks to unlock all the features.

The basic version allows you to search for and download podcasts, browse for new podcasts, create playlists, subscribe to your favourite podcasts, and receive push notifications when new episodes are announced. All pretty standard for a podcast app, right? If you’re willing to pony up the $5 for the ‘Unlock Everything’ option, you’ll be able to use Smart Speed to increase the speed of playback. Smart Speed compresses periods of silence, so overly long podcasts will be a little more manageable or easy to listen to. (more…)

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Twitter acquires CardSpring to help fulfill ‘in-the-moment commerce’ dreams

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Twitter probably isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of mobile payments, but the company has just made a big play in the mobile commerce space. The microblogging site today announced the acquisition of payments infrastructure company CardSpring to help with “the future of commerce on Twitter.”

CardSpring gives developers the ability to add their own applications to the payment network so retailers can apply discounts and coupons at checkout and customers don’t have to mess around with offline coupons. It also runs CardSpring Connect, a service that helps merchants manage the creation and deployment of special promotions for their businesses using services like FourSquare. (more…)

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Google will stop calling free-to-play games ‘free’ in the EU

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The European Commission confirmed in a statement today that Google has agreed to follow its recommendations on consumer protection as they relate to free and free-to-play games. Back in December, the European Commission presented a series of requests to Apple, Google, and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, asking that:

  • Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved
  • Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints

Starting in September, the Google Play Store will no longer list free to download games with in-app purchases as “free” games within the EU. Google will also modify its developer guidelines to make it more difficult to target children with in-app purchase requests.

(more…)

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HTC’s Android Wear smartwatch shows its metal frame in leaked render

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Ignore the watch face; it’s just a mock-up. But according to @evleaks, the hardware render is real, and could give the Moto 360 a run for its money.

HTC is set to release an Android Wear smartwatch later this year, and a leaked render of the timepiece shows its clad in metal, including the chassis and, most likely, the default strap. (more…)

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Imagination promises longer lasting wearables with PowerVR GX5300 GPU

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One of the biggest issues with wearables today is battery life. People don’t want to have to charge these companion devices as often as they have to charge their smartphone — and rightfully so!

Unfortunately, that’s what most of them require, since they don’t last for multiple days on a single charge. PowerVR is hoping to change that with the industry’s smallest GPU. The company hopes the PowerVR GX5300 will increase battery life across both embedded applications in the IoT world as well as in wearable devices. (more…)

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Yo closes out $1.5 million in funding in seed round

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About a month ago, Yo was one of the most talked about applications on the internet. This simple notification app went viral based on the simplicity of its function. All it does is let you send ‘Yo’ notifications to your friends. If you thought the app was pointless when you heard about it, you definitely weren’t alone. So did a lot of people.  You know who doesn’t think Yo is stupid, though? Startup studio and investment firm Betaworks.

That’s right, the company that invested in Twitter, Tumblr, Airbnb, and others has announced that it will be participating in the seed round of funding for Yo. According to Betaworks’ John Borthwick, Yo is part of a whole new class of apps that function in the notification layer of your device and has huge potential. Betaworks thinks that Yo and other apps limited to on/off/yes/no communication are “fascinating” and have the potential to become a platform all on their own. (more…)

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