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Yo closes out $1.5 million in funding in seed round

yo

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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Soundwave for iOS and Android adds music messaging, teams with popular streaming services like Rdio, Deezer and Spotify

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Soundwave is an interesting little tool that lets music lovers share what they’re listening to. Unlike Rdio, which silos all users into a single service, Soundwave takes cues from Last.fm’s ancient Scrobbling platform, consolidating listened tracks from a variety of online services like Soundcloud, YouTube, Deezer, Rdio, Spotify and others.

It was part discovery network, part social network. Now, with Soundwave 2.0, it’s also a chat platform. The app now wants to be the layer between private music sharing chat rooms, making it incredibly easy for its user base to listen to practically any full, in full, across disparate services. (more…)

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Want to see a BlackBerry Z30 play air hockey? Of course you do

BlackBerry Z30 Air Hockey

The Astonishing Tribe, now called BlackBerry Sweden (TAT), is well-known for its inventive mobile technology and design demos. Of course, TAT also knows how to have a little fun when it’s not presenting new UX paradigms. Such was the case one weekend this spring, when BlackBerry Sweden employee Stephen Lau took it upon himself to turn a BlackBerry Z30 into an air hockey champion as part of the company’s 2014 hackathon, using an Arduino board, an old BMW windshield motor, and some help from the GitHub community.

“The physical setup for the project was fairly simple. I found a microphone stand from our music room upstairs and mounted the device above the table. From this vantage point, the BlackBerry Z30’s front facing camera has a view of about 85% of the air hockey table. Another engineer from Malmö and I repurposed the BMW’s windshield motor to be the “goalie.” The windshield motor is hooked to an Arduino with a Bluetooth shield and a relay shield. To ensure that the BlackBerry Z30 was doing all the work, the Arduino is simply programmed to turn each relay on or off via Bluetooth. The device does the actual H bridge logic and the position control… The code itself is quite simple. Since I cheated and made the puck green, I was able to greatly simplify my image processing code. Between each frame, the BlackBerry Z30 locates the puck, calculates the puck’s trajectory and then moves the goalie to try and block it.”

(more…)

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SaskTel and MTS to launch iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display

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Apple launched its latest iPads, the Air and Mini with Retina Display, in October of last year. Apart from being available directly from Apple, many Canadian carriers decided to begin selling the tablets this past June. And, better last than never, regional carriers SaskTel and MTS have announced plans to launch the iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular and iPad mini with Retina display with Wi-Fi + Cellular starting on July 31st.

Both will have the 16GB and 32GB versions available, but the prices are not yet known. It highly likely that SaskTel and MTS will follow the Apple Store prices, where iPad mini starts at $549 for the 16GB model and rises to $849 for the 128GB model. The 9.7-inch iPad Air begins at $649 and rises to $949 for the same LTE-connected storage levels.

Source: MTS, SaskTel

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LG G3 priced at $700 no-term, launching August 1st

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LG declared last week that the new G3 will start arriving at Canadian carriers on August 1st. This new flagship smartphone will be available at Rogers, Bell, MTS, SaskTel and Videotron and Canadians will only see the Metallic Black colour option available at launch.

LG and the carriers have been secretive on the price points, but we can confirm the no-term cost on Bell, and probably the other carriers, will be $699.95. This is a similar structure that the previous G2 flagship was released at last year and saw the 2-year contract price fall between $179.99 to $199.99. (more…)

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Google now taking requests for its first Project Ara developer board

Project Ara

Google plans to begin distributing the first of what will eventually become the building blocks of its modular smartphone platform, Project Ara.

Created at Google’s ATAP division, which is also responsible for the further-along Project Tango (of which we saw a demo at Google I/O), Project Ara promises to offer modular smartphones where people can buy individual magnetic modules that add specific functionality, such as an improved camera or larger battery. (more…)

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