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HERE Maps crosses the 3 million mark in Play Store downloads

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After it was unleashed from Windows Phone exclusivity, the HERE Maps app has shaped up to be on a steady rise in the Google Play Store. Less than a month ago, the app was at the 1 million milestone, and today 3 million downloads have been reached.

HERE Maps’ main selling point has always been its support for offline navigation. Currently the database spans 118 countries the world over, and turn-by-turn voice navigation is available in multiple languages. Read more »

Microsoft launches Office for Android, Outlook for iOS and Android, updates OneDrive

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Under its new leadership, Microsoft has embraced other Mobile platforms and Office for Android is officially available starting today (having gone through a preview stage). Also, it’s bringing Outlook to Android and iOS and updating the OneDrive apps to handle photos better.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android tablets offer an “unmistakably Office experience”, which means the Ribbon UI. Read more »

Rolling Stone archive will be freely available on Google Play Newsstand

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The legendary pop culture magazine – Rolling Stone has announced that it will open most of its huge archive for free public access on Google Play Newsstand. Articles span over almost fifty years and every single issue since 1967 will have its place in the digital edition. According to fastcompany.com three to four big stories per magazine will be available digitally for free including every single cover story ever published.

This is a huge deal for both parties and is a part of a strategic advertising program. Google apparently purchased “seven figures” worth of Rolling Stone advertising as part of this deal. Never the less the exclusive availability should really boost Google Play Newsstand’s popularity on both Android and iOS. The magazine is also sure to reel in some new fans and recapture the love of current ones. Read more »

Qantas to trial Samsung Gear VR headset for in-flight entertainment

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Some are using their VR headsets to play a flight simulator and get a first-person perspective of the cockpit. Qantas Airways wants to flip this on its head and use a VR headset – namely the Samsung Gear VR – take you anywhere you want while in a first class cabin of select Airbus A380 flights.

Select first class lounges (in Sydney and Melbourne) will also get the Gear VR so you can preview your destination. Read more »

OpenSignal: About a quarter of Android smartphones are dual-SIMs now

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With communication shifting towards IM and VoIP apps, one might think that dual-SIM phones are on their way out, but it turns out that’s not the case. According to OpenSignal about a quarter of Android smartphones tend to be dual-SIMs.

It’s a very regional thing – countries with strong carrier subsidies have very few multi-SIM devices, while countries with a “bring your own device” model tend to have a lot more. Read more »

Bill Gates working on a Personal Agent project at Microsoft

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When Bill Gates stepped down as Microsoft chairman last year, he vowed to “substantially” increase the time he spends at the company, with a particular focus on “ambitious scenarios,” though he didn’t reveal what exactly he would be doing. However, in an Ask Me Anything question and answer session on Reddit yesterday, Gates revealed that he is currently working on a project dubbed Personal Agent.

“One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to,” he said. “The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model – the agent will help solve this.” Read more »

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 »