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Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:41

A screen shows the Xbox One logo during the presentation in Shanghai on July 30, 2014Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices. China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce said Tuesday it was investigating the US technology firm for "monopoly actions" related to its flagship Windows operating system and Office suite of software. The day after the announcement of the investigation, Microsoft introduced its newest Xbox One model to the potentially vast Chinese market ahead of the official sales launch, which a company representative said would be September 23. "We are deeply committed to deliver the very best games and entertainment experience for fans in China," Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, told reporters at an event billed as a chance to "experience" the Xbox.

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Twitter's surge revives valuation debate

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:37

Twitter logo is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeThe surge in Twitter Inc's stock has revived debate about whether it warrants a valuation five times that of Facebook Inc , its biggest rival in social media. Twitter reported on Tuesday that its active users jumped 24 percent to 271 million in the second quarter. If Facebook was trading at Twitter's valuation, it would be worth nearly $1 trillion.

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Processing issue delays bar exam submissions

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:26

Law school graduates taking the bar exam gather outside the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, July 30, 2014, during a break in the second and final day of testing. Test takers in several states experienced stressful delays when trying to upload answers from their computers following Tuesday’s daylong session. Software provider ExamSoft Worldwide Inc. blamed a “processing issue.” (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Law school graduates sweated their way through the second and final day of their bar exams Wednesday, some relieved to see paper and pencil after running into a technical glitch that kept test takers in several states from uploading the first day's answers from their computers.

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Why Did Microsoft Make China's Cortana Cuter Than Everyone Else's?

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:23

Why Did Microsoft Make China's Cortana Cuter Than Everyone Else's?Microsoft announced the features in its Windows Phone 8.1 update today, including, as expected, folders for organizing apps, an Xbox Music app, and new capabilities for text messaging.  Microsoft's Siri—for China, while sticking to the same ole halo look for all other countries' versions. It's cute, and it's made cuter by its nickname: "Xiao Na." ("Xiao" means "little" in Mandarin Chinese, and is often used for children's nicknames.) But why the special treatment for China? Take it away, Microsoft: 

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A tech fan’s confession: I actually regret helping Amazon kill off bookstores

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:20

 I actually regret helping Amazon kill off bookstoresI’m not normally one to weep over obsolete business models. I can’t bring myself to fret too much about the Internet strangling the life out of print newspapers, video rental stores or CD shops, largely because I’ve found that what’s replaced them (online journalism, Netflix and iTunes) offers much better value than the old way of doing things. And when the Internet eventually kills off cable TV, I will positively do a dance of joy in the streets. That said, there is one slowly dying business that I’ll confess that I sorely miss: Bookstores. Unlike many retail outlets, going to a bookstore is relaxing and enjoyable. The staff in the stores aren’t constantly hounding you to see if they can

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Millions battle in 'Destiny' video game test run

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:18

Eric Hirshberg, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Publishing, talks as Sony introduces the PlayStation 4 at a news conference February 20, 2013 in New YorkArmies of players joined the virtual fray during a test run of online play for a "Destiny" video game poised to make a blockbuster debut later this year. The number of players topped 4.6 million, making it the "biggest beta" test for a new-generation console title and the largest test run ever for a new video game franchise, according to a statement Wednesday from Activision Publishing chief executive Eric Hirshberg. "We were totally blown away by the number of people who played the beta," said Bungie Studios chief operating officer Pete Parsons. Activision boasted that, by the time the beta program closed Sunday night, the number of players who took part hit 4,638,937.

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R.I.P. Facebook Gifts

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:04

R.I.P. Facebook GiftsNext month, Facebook will no longer pushily suggest you send your friend (who you probably haven't spoken to in years) a gift on their birthday (that you probably would've missed if not for the always looming social network.) 

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The top 9 wearables you can buy right now

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 15:02
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With 1Password and iOS 8, you'll never need to remember a password again

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:59

With 1Password and iOS 8, you'll never need to remember a password againOne of the most exciting features coming in Apple's iOS 8 update is extensions. Starting this fall, third-party iOS apps will work together better than they ever have before. If everything works out the way Apple wants it to, you'll suddenly find yourself jumping between various apps less and less. At WWDC, Apple demonstrated how this will make photo editing way easier.

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Germany to examine BlackBerry's planned Secusmart buy

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:59

BlackBerry Ltd. Chairman and CEO John Chen speaks at the BlackBerry Security Summit in New York CityGermany will examine BlackBerry's planned acquisition of Secusmart, whose encryption technology protects the devices of government officials including Angela Merkel. BlackBerry, which is trying to reinvent itself under new Chief Executive John Chen, wants to buy the privately held German firm to burnish its credentials with highly security-conscious clients like government agencies. German Chancellor Merkel, whose mobile phone was eavesdropped on by the U.S. National Security Agency, has a BlackBerry mobile device with Secusmart encryption, as do many other members of the government administration. Shares in BlackBerry, which fell as much as 4.5 percent on Tuesday's news of the planned acquisition, traded up 1.6 percent at $9.67 on the Nasdaq and up 2 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$10.54 by 1946 GMT.

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Google’s Material Design is about to change the way we look at the worldwide web

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:55

Google’s Material Design is about to change the way we look at the worldwide webAndroid L’s Material Design is not reserved only to the Android operating system or Google’s mobile apps, as the company wants to use the same design principles it formally unveiled at its I/O developers conference this year across the web. Furthermore, the company wants app developers to include the same Material Design elements in their own apps, and Google has so far showed what Material Design apps are supposed to look like. To further showcase Material Design, this time on a functional web page rather than by providing just concept images, Google has updated its Google Drive home pages (for Docs, Sheets and Slides) to Material Design. Google announced the changes in a Google+ post titled. “Home screens for Docs, Sheets,

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Portland, Oregon, council OKs short-term rentals

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:48
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland, Oregon, City Council has voted to legalize short-term rentals in single-family homes, giving added legitimacy to rental websites such as Airbnb.
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Factbox: Google under European regulatory spotlight

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:47
(Reuters) - Google Inc faces a variety of challenges from European Commission regulators, in contrast to its experience in the United States where the Internet search company has largely mitigated regulatory threats. The following are some of the regulatory issues that Google is contending with in Europe: *Android - EC regulators have stepped up inquiries into Google's policies regarding its Android mobile operating system, which is used in 80 percent of the world's mobile phones. Regulators appear to be focused on whether Google’s mobile policies impede rivals. *Search - An EC investigation that began in 2010 seeks to address complaints that Google manipulated its search results to rank its own services higher than competitors.
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European regulators training sights on Google's mobile software

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:45

File photo of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt speaking at a Motorola phone launch event in New YorkBy Foo Yun Chee and Alexei Oreskovic BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - European regulators are preparing what could be a stern challenge to Google Inc's mobile software business in the coming months after a nearly four-year investigation into the company's Web search practices left rivals and European politicians dissatisfied. Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that with a new antitrust chief taking over in November, European regulators are laying the groundwork for a case centered on whether Google abuses the 80 percent market share of its Android mobile operating system to promote services from maps to search. The Commission has stepped up inquiries just in recent weeks, sending companies questionnaires that seek far more details than previous queries on the matter in 2011 and 2013. In one questionnaire seen by Reuters, respondents were asked whether there was a requirement set by Google, written or unwritten, that they not pre-install apps, products or services on mobile devices that compete with Google software like its search engine, app store and maps.

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Pinterest buys startup with image organizing skills

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:40

Pinterest's mobile app logo is displayed on a tablet on January 2, 2014 in ParisOnline bulletin-board service Pinterest on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Spanish startup Icebergs, specializing in helping creative people collaborate on projects. The acquisition was aimed at beefing up Pinterest's team, particularly with Icebergs co-founders Cesar Isern and Albert Pereta. "For years, Cesar and Albert have been building technology to improve online visual curation and organization of projects, and we're excited for them to join us," Pinterest said in an email to AFP. Icebergs services will be discontinued on the first of September, and the startup's founders will come here to work for Pinterest.

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The ‘Netflix for pirates’ is coming soon to an iPhone near you

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:30

The ‘Netflix for pirates’ is coming soon to an iPhone near youThose unencumbered by guilt and happy to steal movies instead of paying to see them will be glad to learn that the latest and greatest movie-pirating tool is coming soon to an iPhone and iPad near you. Hot on the heels of the release of an app called TorrenTV that uses Popcorn Time’s code to stream torrents to an Apple TV or Roku box, the team behind Popcorn Time confirmed that an Apple TV streaming feature has been added to its own app. More interestingly, however, the team has confirmed that it will soon launch an iOS version of its popular app. “Our ultimate goal is to bring Popcorn Time to every platform, operating system and device that can play videos, so Airplay

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A closer look at the Lytro Illum, the futuristic new light-field camera

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:30

A closer look at the Lytro Illum, the futuristic new light-field cameraTwo years ago, Lytro's first camera showed us a world in which we never had to worry about getting the right photo anymore, where we could change focus and perspective well after we shot our photos in the first place. The Illum, Lytro's second model, is a $1,499 beast of a digital camera that is designed to completely reinvent the way we take and look at photos.

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US carriers have 'reaped hundreds of millions of dollars' from bogus charges

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 14:25

US carriers have 'reaped hundreds of millions of dollars' from bogus chargesA new report published Wednesday claims US wireless carriers have raked in "hundreds of millions of dollars" from unsuspecting customers by "cramming" unauthorized charges onto their bills. The dubious practice often finds wireless subscribers paying for premium short message services (PSMS) they have no recollection of signing up for. Cramming has "caused consumers substantial harm" according to the US Senate Commerce Committee. "Third-party billing on wireless phone bills has been a billion dollar industry that has yielded tremendous revenues for carriers," the report found.

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