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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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Kik Messenger partners with Glympse to give its users real-time location sharing

Glympse on Kik

Kik has partnered with popular location-tracking service Glympse to give its users real-time location sharing. The partnership will allow Kik’s 120 million users to share their location, or request a friend to share their location using Glympse directly from a Kik conversation. Glympse can also automatically update the shared location via a handy live map viewable within the Kik app.

Of course, while this will be seen as a handy feature by most Kik users, it may also cause concern amongst Kik opponents, who see the app as a tool for bad actors to harass young teenagers. For its part, Kik allows users to limit how long a friend will be able to view live location data, from just a single point to for hours of live tracking. Parents concerned about just whom their children are sharing location data with should also make sure they avail themselves fully of the app’s recently enhanced privacy features.

Source MarketWired

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Sony Xperia Z2 set to receive Android 4.4.2 update with improved call quality, touch sensitivity

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Sony’s Xperia Z2 has been available from Bell and unlocked in Sony Stores for a couple of months now, and it is set to receive a small update from Android 4.4 to 4.4.2.

While numerically minor, the software brings a number of bug fixes to the core Android experience, along with some Sony-specific enhancements. Specifically, the Xperia Z2 will benefit from improved call quality and touch performance, along with better charging detection when the battery is low. Sony also emphasizes that overall performance and stability has improved here, likely due to the numerous issues cleared up by Google in the interval between 4.4 and 4.4.2. (more…)

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ZTE launching its first smartphone in Canada, the Grand X, as a Bell exclusive

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Another exclusive smartphone is heading to Bell this month. The ZTE Grand X, a 5-inch 720p device with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 5MP rear camera and 1MP front-facing camera, will arrive in Canada on July 29th.

While the device might not be for everyone, the specs are something to consider for the price, which is a respectable $149.95 no-term. The Grand X also has a 2400mAh battery, runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, weighs in at 175g, and sports HSPA+ connectivity.

Probably the most important news about Bell launching the Grand X is that it is ZTE’s first smartphone in Canada. Previously ZTE only released wireless hotspots.

(Thanks tipster!)

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Amazon launches ‘Kindle Unlimited’ subscription service for customers in USA

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Amazon on Friday launched a new type of subscription service for Kindle users that allows unlimited access to a library of 600,000 e-books and audiobooks for just $10 per month.

Dubbed Kindle Unlimited, the service was first spotted by Kboards user MJAWare earlier this week. Though Amazon didn’t comment on the leak, which came via an official Amazon video, it looked like it was pretty close to launch. Now, just a couple of days after news broke, Amazon has made things official. (more…)

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