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Google allegedly in talks to acquire Softcard

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American mobile wallet company Softcard, previously known as Isis, will allegedly be acquired by Google, according to sources at Techcrunch. The deal could be completed for as little as $100 million.

Softcard started life as Isis and was created as a collaboration between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. It is an NFC based mobile payment system that never really took off despite the might of three major carriers behind it. Last year, the company changed its name from Isis to Softcard to prevent confusion with the similarly named terrorist organization. Read more »

Concerns over Apple Pay data demands cast a shadow over UK launch

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Apple is in talks with several major British banks to launch Apple Pay in the first half of 2015 in the UK, according to a Telegraph report, which also notes that negotiations with at least one of the biggest banks are proving difficult, as the bank is said to be having issues with specific terms of the mobile payments service, including what data the Cupertino-based company will be able to access.

“It is understood the bank is uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers,” the report says, adding that on one hand banks fear that the Apple’s service and the data it delivers to the company could serve as a “beachhead for an invasion of the banking industry,” while on the other hand, they do not want to miss out on the service either. Read more »

Uber’s regulatory woes continue as the ride-sharing service faces ban in Taiwan, fines in China

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Just a few days after it entered into a partnership with China-based search engine Baidu, Uber has come under the scanner of the authorities in Chongqing. The Chinese city which is home to more than 30 million people, is concerned that its drivers are not appropriately licensed.

According to a Reuters report, the Chongqing government is currently investigating the legality of the ride-sharing startup’s business model, with officials saying that private drivers operating without a commercial license would be classified as “illegal behavior,” and a fine of 30,000 yuan ($4,820) to 100,000 yuan ($16,070) would be imposed on them. Read more »

ChatOn to shut down in all markets except US on February 1

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If you picked up any of the recent Samsung phones, you’d notice there is no ChatOn application that used to always be around on older phones whether you liked it or not. That’s because the company has been planning on shutting down the service for a while.

Now Samsung has revealed to Engadget that it plans on shutting down the service in all markets except the US on February 1. The company said it will be “focusing on [its] core services.”, which basically means ‘we will stick to what we are good at’. Read more »

Apple Pay is on its way to Europe, pulled job ad reveals

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If you were having doubts about Apple making its new payment service available outside of the US, then this is for you. Apple Pay is indeed coming to Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa. This has been confirmed by a job posting by Apple on its website.

The ad has since been pulled, but it mentioned the company was looking for a London-based intern to “drive out the rollout” of Apple Pay across the aforementioned territories. Read more »

Nvidia updates Shield Hub with Material Design, 1080p@60fps streaming

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Nvidia’s latest update to the Shield Hub brings a new Material Design overhaul with better focus on games and the option to stream games from your Shield device to a TV in 1080p at 60fps quality. There is also the usual bug fixes and performance improvements.

The update affects both the Nvidia Shield gaming device and the Shield Tablet. Shield Hub will now show you more games on the same screen and reduce the need for scrolling. Read more »

Nokia stops developing HERE maps on WP, Microsoft takes over

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Nokia will no longer be updating the HERE mapping and navigation apps on the Windows Phone platform. Although originally created by Nokia, the map data has now been licensed by Microsoft, who will now be updating the app instead.

On the other hand, Nokia has no plans of abandoning HERE maps but will instead be moving to greener pastures. Read more »

Nest controls will soon make their way to Google Now

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You will soon be able to control you Nest thermostat from Google Now. The functionality is already baked into the search giant’s virtual assistant, though it is yet to go live.

If you ask Google Now on your device to “set Nest to 70 degrees,” it will try and complete the task. Read more »

BBM gets stickers in group chats, new design on iOS, support for Android 5.0 Lollipop

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BlackBerry’s well known messaging app, BBM, has today been updated to version 2.6 on iOS, Android, and the company’s own smartphones.

The update adds one of the most requested features, which apparently was the support for sending stickers in group chats. Read more »

Update to Google Fit for Android adds support for new activities

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Hot on the heels of Android Wear’s firmware bump, Google Fit for Android received a major update as well. The latest version of the search giant’s health and fitness suite brings new features to the platform.

Google Fit now supports manual entry for over 100 new activities. Read more »

Microsoft gifts 100 albums on Xbox Music

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If you are using Microsoft’s Xbox Music streaming service, you can now download 100 popular albums for free. Microsoft is giving those away those albums to citizens in the USA only (damn licensing rights!), who are subscribers to its music app with Xbox Music Pass activated.

Some of the free albums include TRON: Legacy OST, Swedish House Mafia – Until Now, U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP2, Zedd – Clarity, Avicii – True, Lana Del Ray – Born to Die, Jessie J – Sweet Talker, Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III and Imagine Dragons – Night Visions. Read more »

Carousel by Dropbox can now clear up storage on your device

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Dropbox added new features to its Carousel gallery app for Android and iOS. Going forward users of the application will have automatic device storage management at their disposal.

The above mentioned new functionality will automatically delete images on a device if they have already been backed up in Dropbox. Read more »

Here apps for Windows Phone get updates, 18 more countries with navigation

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The Here suite of apps for Windows Phone has been updated today. All of the apps have new versions waiting to be downloaded and installed, but perhaps the biggest changes are brought to the Here Drive+ app. It now supports voice-guided navigation in 18 more countries or territories.

These are Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This brings the total number of countries and territories in which voice-guided directions are available to 118. Read more »

Cortana lands in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain

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After initially only being available in the US, Cortana was enabled for China and the UK too this summer. And now Microsoft’s virtual assistant is making it to four more countries: France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Today, Microsoft has announced that it will start rolling out an update for the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program which will make Cortana available in these new places as an “alpha”. Read more »

Redesigned Google Play store for Android is coming our way

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Google is about to launch a redesigned Play store app for Android. Version 5.1 of the application features refreshed looks and layout changes.

The upcoming new Android Play store features full-height navigation drawer and real-time card shadows. Read more »