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Spotify's quest to get it 'just right' through balanced design

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:30

Spotify's quest to get it 'just right' through balanced designIn the heart of Stockholm a team of designers and engineers have been hard at work, mostly in secret, overhauling one of biggest names in music. (And no, we're not talking about Icona Pop or even an ABBA reunion.) On Birger Jarlsgatan, a street that divides the neighborhoods of Ostermalm and Norrmalm in the Swedish capital, sits the home of Spotify.


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Ai Weiwei is starring in a sci-fi short that needs your funding

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:12

Ai Weiwei is starring in a sci-fi short that needs your fundingPerhaps China's most-prominent artist, Ai Weiwei's diverse body of work includes sculpture, architectural installations, photography, and documentary films. For a new Kickstarter project Weiwei will appear on the other side of the camera, as an actor taking the leading role in a 10-minute sci-fi short. Set in "the not-too-distant future," the film stars Weiwei as a smuggler in a world without water. ...


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Beggars can be choosers: BlackBerry dumps T-Mobile following spat

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:10

 BlackBerry dumps T-Mobile following spatSome might consider holding a grudge while your company is struggling to stage a comeback ill-advised, but BlackBerry took it personally when T-Mobile recently had some fun at its expense. For those who don’t recall, T-Mobile recently offered subscribers a promotion where they would get extra money when trading in their BlackBerry smartphones towards the purchase of a new iPhone. BlackBerry CEO John Chen wasn’t shy in voicing his anger, and T-Mobile responded by rethinking its promotion. As it turns out, the changes didn’t matter and BlackBerry customers still abandoned the platform en masse in favor of Android and the iPhone. Now, BlackBerry has decided to send T-Mobile a different kind of breakup letter. The Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker on Tuesday


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KitKat's share of Android devices more than doubles to 5.3 percent

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 06:54

KitKat's share of Android devices more than doubles to 5.3 percentAfter months of treading water, Android 4.4 KitKat is finally taking off. Google reports that 5.3 percent of Android users are running the newer OS version as of early April; that's more than twice the 2.5 percent that it claimed one month earlier. There's no official explanation for the jump, but it's most likely thanks to a wave of KitKat upgrades from HTC, LG and Samsung.


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KitKat grows but Jelly Bean is still top candy in Android’s candy store

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 06:25

KitKat grows but Jelly Bean is still top candy in Android’s candy storeGoogle has released new data detailing Android distribution for the 7-day period ending on April 1, 2014, revealing that its latest operating system version – Android 4.4 KitKat – is now installed on 5.3% of all Android devices that connect to the Play Store, a significant increase from early March, when KitKat accounted for 2.5% of installations, and early February, when KitKat was installed on less than 2% of devices. However, it’s still Jelly Bean that’s the most popular operating system in Google’s Android ecosystem, with the three different Jelly Bean versions combined accounting for 61.4% of Android users. Much older Android OS versions are still in the picture, with the new data showing that 14.3% and 17.8% of Android


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What are smartphones for? Apps and gaming

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 06:08

What are smartphones for? Apps and gamingMobile analytics firm Flurry's latest in-depth study into mobile device use in the US shows that even over the past three months, the average length of time per day spent browsing, calling, or using apps via a smartphone has jumped another four minutes to a massive two hours and 42 minutes. Facebook (including Instagram use) is a distant second, accounting for 17 percent of time spent, while social messaging, i.e., using WhatsApp or SnapChat or Viber for example, takes up another 9.5 percent. At 4 percent, YouTube accounts for half of all entertainment app use (with all others accounting for another 4%), and is as popular as all apps defined as aiding productivity (4%). However, despite its ability to create trends, cause outrage or act as a foundation for building news stories, smartphone users devote just 1.5 percent of their time -- less than three minutes a day -- to Twitter, half as much as they devote to news apps.


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Amazon quietly adds Metacritic review scores to video game listings

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 05:33

Amazon quietly adds Metacritic review scores to video game listingsAmazon's own product rating system is fine and all, but subjective reviews aren't always as relevant as we might like, even when there's an overwhelming consensus. Whether browsing for games online, or scanning shelves in a second-hand store, ...


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Google’s new thermostat officially launches in first European market

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 05:30

Google’s new thermostat officially launches in first European marketA custom Nest thermostat version has finally launched in the U.K., The Verge reports, as the Google-owned company has modified the U.S. model to suit the requirements of the local market. Nest has added a new Heat Link component that connects the thermostat to a boiler via a wired or wireless connection. Apparently this particular component delayed the official launch of Nest in the region, although the thermostat has been unofficially available in as many as 120 countries on top of the U.S. and Canada, the only countries where it was released so far. In addition to hardware changes, the Nest’s software has also been updated, the publication reports. In the U.K., Nest will know it has “to switch off


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Viber's Windows Phone 8 app now allows you to call any number you want

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 05:00

Viber's Windows Phone 8 app now allows you to call any number you wantHow does Viber celebrate being acquired for a ton of money? By bringing one of its most popular features, Viber Out, to Windows Phone 8 -- that's how. In second thought, we're probably way off.


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Xiaomi clones Kickstarter project for its new one-button Android controller (update)

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 04:37

Xiaomi clones Kickstarter project for its new one-button Android controller (update)Last October saw Pressy -- a one-button Android controller that plugs into your device's headphone jack -- eclipse its initial Kickstarter goal of $40,000, ending with almost $700,000 in its coffers. Apparently Xiaomi was paying attention, because the ...


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Chromebooks bucking the PC market's downward trend

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 04:05

Acer Google Chromebook laptopAccording to ABI Research's latest data, some 2.1 million Chromebooks shipped in 2013 and that figure is expected to jump to 11 million annually within the next five years. Although the range of Chromebooks available and the number of manufacturers building them is growing all the time, their prices remain constant. "ABI Research tracked Chromebooks across six regions and found the average selling price (ASP) to be US$338," says research analyst Stephanie Van Vactor. So why are Chromebooks growing in appeal while other computers, with the exception of Apple's Mac range (which continues to build its market share), are struggling for sales?


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Japan looks to next-gen 3D printers for a return to manufacturing success

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 03:35

Japan looks to next-gen 3D printers for a return to manufacturing successAmerican 3D printer manufacturers have stolen a lead on the competition, but a Japan-based alliance is looking to fight back... it'll take a year or two, is all. The group includes universities, 27 companies including the likes of Panasonic, Nissan and Kawasaki, as well as the Japanese government. Rather than cheerfully-colored figurines and trinkets, the group plans to use titanium-based materials to craft complicated components like airplane parts and artificial joints for medical use.


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NASA's game collaboration lets you steer asteroids without leaving home

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 03:27

NASA's game collaboration lets you steer asteroids without leaving homeKerbal Space Program is the closest you'll get to running a space agency. The game lets you build and launch everything from orbital stations to interplanetary explorers, all in the name of collecting scientific data. It's only fitting, then, that the studio behind the title has teamed up with NASA to release its Asteroid Redirect Mission add-on.


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Samsung's Smart Home service ready to control new wave of TVs and appliances

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 02:53

Samsung's Smart Home service ready to control new wave of TVs and appliancesSamsung has just taken a big step in its home automation plans by launching its Smart Home service in the US and Korea. That means you can now download an Android app that, in conjunction with Samsung's cloud service, ...


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Intel aims at China with its speedy LTE Cat 6 solution, shipping in Q2 this year

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 02:25

Intel aims at China with its speedy LTE Cat 6 solution, shipping in Q2 this yearMarking Intel's 29th year in China, CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at IDF Shenzhen with a little surprise: his company will be shipping its first Cat 6 multi-mode LTE solution, the XMM 7260, in Q2 this year. This follows the XMM 7160 that started shipping with Cat 4 LTE and half the number of basebands last October. The new solution has added support for China's popular TD-SCDMA plus TD-LTE networks, along with the usual 2G GSM, WCDMA plus FDD-LTE around the world.


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Nest's Learning Thermostat lands in the UK for £179

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 02:01

Nest's Learning Thermostat lands in the UK for £179Nest officially entered the UK market last year with the launch of its smoke and carbon monoxide detector Protect, but curiously, the Learning Thermostat the company's known for remained exclusive to North America. That changes today, however, with ...


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Nest thermostat arrives in the UK ahead of an 'aggressive' European expansion

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 02:00

Nest thermostat arrives in the UK ahead of an 'aggressive' European expansionAlthough it's only been available to buy in the US and Canada so far, the Nest Learning Thermostat has already been installed in over 120 countries around the world. As of today, the market for its purchase is growing in number with the addition of the UK, where you'll be able to buy the home automation device for £179 (or £249 with the recommended professional installation included). The Learning Thermostat is, at its core, an app to smarten up your home's heating and cooling systems with just enough hardware to make the process viable and intuitive. In making the transition to the UK, it's had to add a new Heat Link component that attaches to your boiler at home and communicates to the Thermostat via either a wired or wireless connection.


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Sky's new 'Buy & Keep' movie store ties a DVD to every download

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 02:00

Sky's new 'Buy & Keep' movie store ties a DVD to every downloadAfter years serving only movie rentals, Sky is to finally let Sky Store customers download and keep films in its catalog. Following an earlier expansion that saw it open the marketplace to everyone in the UK, the media giant ...


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Spotify's biggest redesign ever brings long-awaited Collection view

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 01:24

Spotify's biggest redesign ever brings long-awaited Collection viewIn the age of streaming music, meanwhile, Spotify has seemingly taken the lead. But as of late, Spotify has looked a bit archaic, a relic of the post-Napster era where "click to play" was a killer feature. Today, Spotify is rolling out perhaps its biggest design update ever for web, iPhone, Android, and Mac — a revamp which draws liberally from competitors like Rdio while establishing one identity across platforms for the first time. The update adds handsome Proxima Nova type, rounded iconography and buttons to reflect the company's new-ish logo, large photos on artist pages, and a dark color scheme that accentuates important areas (like play buttons) with Spotify's trademark green.


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Spotify's new design is cleaner, darker and puts the focus on content

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 01:24

Spotify's new design is cleaner, darker and puts the focus on contentIf you're using Spotify on the web, desktop or iOS you should notice a pretty massive change starting today. (The new look should be coming to Android "near future.") The company is launching its most dramatic overhaul since its launch in 2008.


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