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HTC will launch online store in Taiwan next month to better fight against Xiaomi

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HTC is set to start operating its own online store in its home market of Taiwan. This has been known ever since December, when HTC North Asia President Jack Tong made the plans official. The store will officially open at 10 pm local time on February 4.

The move is said to be all about better positioning HTC to compete head-on with Chinese competitors such as Xiaomi when it comes to the sales of cheap smartphones. Read more »

Sony announces PlayStation Music powered by Spotify

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Today Sony has unveiled a new music streaming service that will become available in the spring. It’s called PlayStation Music, and it will be powered by Spotify. It will be available on PS3 and PS4, as well as unnamed “Xperia smartphones and tablets”.

You may be wondering what this means for Sony’s in-house developed service called Music Unlimited. Well, nothing good as it turns out. Music Unlimited will be shut down on March 29 in all the 19 countries where it’s available. Prior to that, from February 28, all of its users with active subscriptions will get free access to the service until it closes down. Read more »

Google Play increases the gap on the iOS App Store in number of downloads, fails to monetize

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App Annie, mobile app analyzer, has published its annual report containing some curious findings. The paper, named App Annie Index:2014 Retrospective, sheds light on the mobile app trends of the year.

Chief among them is that Google is building on its lead over Apple when it comes to downloads, snatching 60% of the total number. In other words, Google Play store has registered close to 50% more app installations than the iOS App Store. Read more »

Motorola offers $140 off for purchases of $499.99 for Valentine’s Day

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Motorola has just announced its Valentine’s Day promotion. If you buy from the phone maker’s website directly, you’ll be able to save as much as $140 for a purchase of at least $499.99. The details are a little bit complicated however.

It all starts on February 2 at 11 am CT. From that time and until 11:59 pm CT on the same day, you’ll be able to register for a promo code worth $140 for a $499.99 purchase, or $50 off a purchase of at least $249.99. Read more »

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 for Verizon gets sold even though it hasn’t launched

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Back in September the big US carriers launched the Galaxy Tab S from Samsung, but all but one went for the 10.5-inch model only. The sole company to have the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 on sale was AT&T. Interestingly though, an 8.4-incher for Verizon has been certified by the FCC, so clearly the carrier nicknamed Big Red had plans to release it at some point.

That said, here we are in 2015 and Verizon hasn’t done so, which means the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 probably won’t ever get official at this carrier. Intriguingly however, someone actually managed to buy this tablet, the Verizon model, back in December. Read more »

Twitter unveils group Direct Messages and video sharing

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Twitter is mostly a public social network, but it improved its private messaging experience with Direct Messages for groups. Another change today is the ability to record, edit and share short video clips publicly.

The new features will be rolled out gradually to all users, but you can view videos and be invited into conversations by people who have already gotten access to the features. Read more »

Meizu M1 Note teardown reveals phablet’s innards

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Seemingly every new smartphone out there is bound to get the teardown treatment at some point, and the Meizu M1 Note is no exception. The handset which was unveiled late last year has been carefully dismantled in its home country.

The phone bears all, letting us get one or two (or three) glimpses into the components that make it up. The whole thing is held together by a magnesium alloy chassis which is incredibly light, weighing just 16g. Read more »

HTC makes Lollipop kernel source available for unlocked and Developer Edition One (M8)

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HTC started rolling out the update to Android 5.0 Lollipop for the unlocked and Developer Edition units of the One (M8) in the US a couple of weeks ago, and today the Taiwanese company has made the next important step for developers.

It’s now posted the kernel source for its particular flavor of Sense-infused Android 5.0.1 Lollipop on its specialized developer website. This release is different than Google’s Lollipop kernel source exactly because it’s for phones running HTC’s UI overlay. Read more »

Asus working on a ZenWatch with 7-day battery life, says Chairman Jonney Shih

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When a new smartwatch is announced, two questions are immediately asked – “is it round?” and “does it last longer than a day?” Asus will be addressing the second question with a successor to the ZenWatch, which will deliver 7 days on a charge, up from 2 days currently (by official numbers, in practice more like a day).

The news comes from Chairman Jonney Shih, who mentioned it briefly at an end-of-the-year party at Asus. Read more »

Facebook Lite app sneaks up on Play Store

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Facebook has employed a rather odd approach to the mobile market and it seems to be betting on quantity, rather than quality for quite some time now. When the social media giant decided to detach the messenger from its main application, thus making it all that less appealing to most users it sparked an avalanche of complaints with a lot of subscribers rage-quitting on the main app.

Facebook surely must have felt the negative consequences and while initially it seemed like a good enough marketing step to promote the messenger itself the detrimental effect have apparently caught on as a new application has silently made its way to the Google Play Store. It is essentially a lightweight version of the social platform that aims to offer services to low-end devices at faster speeds and best of all, with lower bandwidth. Read more »

Enter Oppo’s selfie contest for a chance to win an Oppo N3

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It seems that selfie contests are becoming as popular as the selfie itself – first Xiaomi, now Oppo too. Oppo’s Selfie Showdown asks you to post your favorite, creative or unusual selfie.

The winners will grab a brand new Oppo N3. The company’s photography flagship has a mechanized rotating camera so selfies get the first-class treatment and are taken with the 13MP camera and dual-LED flash. Read more »

Asus Nexus Player is now available in more retailers

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The Nexus Player by Asus is now available outside to the Google Play store. The Android 5.0 set-top box is available in major US retailers that include Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg.

Newegg and Amazon are the only ones to offer the Nexus Player online. Read more »

YotaPhone 2 hands-on

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YotaPhone 2 is among those smartphones you just can’t miss in the news. It is unique and innovative and we just had to take it for a spin. So, here is the unique YotaPhone 2 arriving at our office. And it has a premium retail box to match.

The YotaPhone 2 isn’t just a flagship with a 5″ 1080p AMOLED screen and running on a Snapdragon 800 chip. It is more than just a phone, thanks to its rear 4.7″ electronic paper display, which can be used as an e-book reader, as well as a primary display to operate the basic phone functions. Read more »

iA Writer comes to Android

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Popular OS X and iOS app iA Writer is coming to Android. The developers have announced a beta version, which will be available for the first 999 people to sign up on their Google+ page, with the final version arriving later.

iA Writer beta will be available through the Play Store for $0.99. The reason behind this is that Google doesn’t allow developers to release a free app and then make it paid later. On the upside, if you are one of the 999 people to get the beta for $0.99, then you won’t have to pay anything extra when it gets updated to the final version later, which will cost $4.99. Read more »

Google responds to Jelly Bean WebView security concerns

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There have been recent concerns over the security issues in the rather outdated WebView mode in Android Jelly Bean. Due to its outdated nature, it is facing security issues, which would otherwise be a non-issue on newer versions of Android.

Google has responded to these concerns by basically saying they won’t be updating the WebView in Jelly Bean. But while that may not be what people have been expecting, Google does have a reasonable explanation for it. Read more »