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goTenna lets you send messages without cell service or WiFi

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While many of us enjoy the lack of connectivity while hiking or camping, there’s a certain amount of risk associated with going ‘off the grid.’ Namely, not being able to contact anyone if something goes wrong. goTenna is hoping to cater to people who regularly find themselves without service with a newly launched device that allows you to send messages from your iOS or Android phone when you have no mobile connectivity.

Tha goTenna pairs wirelessly with your phone, letting you send location or text messages to other goTenna devices up to 50 miles away. All you have to do is pair your phone and the goTenna via Bluetooth and then use the companion app to share your location or send a text. Your message will be sent via low-frequency radio waves to the intended accessory, and the receiving goTenna will then send it to its paired smartphone. Messages feature end-to-end encryption and it can receive and store messages even when not paired with your phone, either; it’ll just push them to your phone the next time you connect. (more…)

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iTunes Pass arrives in Canada, lets you refill at an Apple Store

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Apple users across North America can now add money to an iTunes account at a local Apple Store. iTunes Pass is now available in the United States, Canada, and Australia following a Japanese launch earlier this week.

iTunes Pass is basically for those that don’t want to link their credit card to their iTunes account (or younger users that don’t have a credit card to begin with). It allows you to create an iTunes Pass using the Passbook app. (more…)

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Deezer now allowing web users to listen for free

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Back in April, Deezer went free for mobile, allowing users on Android and iOS to listen to unlimited tunes for free through an ad-supported model. Now, the company is doing the same for its desktop-only or web-based player. This means the service is now reduced to just two tiers, the free version, which users can use while listening via the web or on their phone and has ads, and Premium+, which costs $10 per month. (more…)

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Google now lets you call yourself ‘The Dude’ on Google+

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Google has finally relaxed its real name requirements for Google+, its social-network-cum-photo-storage site. Since the service launched three years ago, Google has insisted that people use their real names so that the site can easily hook into its other services like Gmail and Hangouts, as well as to “protect” the community from trolls and other undesirables.

As the site has grown (or not grown, depending on whom you talk to), Google has likely seen sustained demand for the ability to call oneself something other than his or her real name, both for personal and, in certain countries, security reasons. (more…)

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LG announces mid-range G3 Beat to take on GS5 Mini and HTC One Mini 2

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LG’s latest smartphone, the G3 Beat, is a sports car chassis with a golf engine. Like many other “mini” devices on the market today, it takes after its namesake, the G3, in looks and features, but dials down the specifications to a more mid-range price point.

Coming in at a still-massive 5-inches, the 720p display sports a quarter the number of pixels as the G3 proper, though its IPS lineage should stand it in good stead against HTC and Samsung’s similarly-priced One Mini 2 and Galaxy S5 Mini, respectively. It also maintains the thin bezels and rear controls of its larger counterpart, making it considerably more compact than most 5-inch devices being offered today. (more…)

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BlackBerry Passport gets sized up next to a Canadian passport

The BlackBerry Passport was officially announced last month and the company has been promoting its design all over the place, even going as far as to say “We’ve been living in a rectangular world for quite some time… it’s Hip to be Square.” Apart from the design, BlackBerry has also embedded a 3-row “touch-enabled keyboard” that aims to satisfy its core enterprise customers who want both a touch and physical QWERTY keyboard.

Information about the specs has been limited. We know that the Passport will come with a 4.5-inch display with a 1440 x 1440 screen resolution and run BlackBerry OS 10.3, but that’s pretty much it. Until now. New pictures have surfaced that offer a bit more detail on what we can expect when the Passport is released in September. (more…)

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Microsoft cutting 18,000 jobs, 70% will be from its acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division

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Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO, is wasting no time making significant changes to the structure of the company. What was rumoured last week is now reality as Microsoft announced one if its largest employee reductions in its history. In total, a stunning 18,000, or 14% of its workforce, will be laid off or “moved on” over the next 12 months. The majority will be from its recent acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services division, representing 12,500 people, or 70%, of the cuts.

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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

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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).

(more…)

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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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