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Amazon Echo wireless speaker with voice control is now available to everyone in the US

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Amazon announced the Echo Bluetooth speaker which comes with an integrated personal assistant back in November of last year, so a long time ago. However, only today has the Echo actually gone on sale for everyone in the US.

Until this point, you needed an invite to buy one (no, seriously, Amazon got inspired by OnePlus’ strategy or something). Well, that isn’t the case anymore. The gizmo has also received a $20 price cut on this occasion, now costing $179.99. Shipping is set to start on July 14. Read more »

Google Play Music gets free, ad-supported radio in the US

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Clearly meant as a response of sorts to the launch of Apple Music, Google has today announced it’s adding a free tier to its Play Music streaming service. Previously, this was accessible only through a subscription.

From this point on, however, it also has a free, ad-supported radio version. Unfortunately it’s only going to be available in the US for the foreseeable future (Google has yet to announce when it will go international). Read more »

Google lets you disable Google+ notifications from the web

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Ever noticed how there is always an unread notification every time you use a Google web service in the top right corner, and when you click it, it’s some random person who has added you to their circles? Never mind how legit this actually is, it’s just annoying to click on that and just find a Google+ notification, especially when you could be expecting a notification from one of Google’s other services, such as YouTube.

Google has now pushed an update that will let you choose which notifications appear there. Google+ is available by default and depending upon which other services you use you might get additional options. But best of all, you can finally disable Google+ notifications from appearing here. Read more »

Australia passes controversial website-blocking law to curb piracy of entertainment content

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Australia has passed a controversial anti-piracy law allowing right holders to approach a Federal Court judge and get foreign-hosted websites that have the “primary purpose” of “facilitating” copyright infringement blocked at the ISP-level.

Dubbed Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, the bill – which was introduced back in March this year – got passed the Australian Senate by a vote of 37-13. Read more »

Here Maps now has live traffic coverage in 50 countries

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Here Maps (still owned by Nokia, but that’s something that may change soon) has announced a new milestone today. The service now has live, real time traffic information in 50 countries across the globe. In the map below, every territory that’s blue is covered.

The light blue places are the newest additions, joining the other 44 countries from today. So, starting now you’ll also get live traffic coverage in Bahrain, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Romania. Read more »

Taylor Swift slams Apple for not paying artists, Apple reverses policy

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In case you haven’t heard about it yet, Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple regarding their iTunes store policies, specifically regarding the new iTunes streaming service that Apple is about to launch soon.

The letter, published on Swift’s personal Tumblr, talked about why she is not allowing her new album ’1989′ to be streamed on iTunes. She mentioned how Apple is not paying artists for first three months of the launch of the service. Read more »

Google to remove revenge porn from its search results on request

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In an effort to curb revenge porn, Google has announced that it will honour requests from people to remove from its search results nude or sexually explicit images that have been shared on the Internet without their consent.

“Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women,” the search giant said in a blog post, adding that it will soon put up a web form that revenge porn victims can use to submit their requests to the company. Read more »

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest data safety report puts WhatsApp at bottom

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WhatsApp received the lowest score in Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) latest report on data privacy, which gave the messaging company only a single star, and that too for its parent company Facebook’s public position opposing backdoors.

Dubbed Who Has Your Back, the yearly report rates companies on factors like requiring a warrant for content, following industry-accepted best practices, disclosing data retention policies and content removal requests, as well as having pro-user public policy. Interestingly, this is WhatsApp’s first year in the report, which is into its fifth year. Read more »

Reddit hops on the encryption bandwagon, to switch to HTTPS on June 29

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Popular internet community website Reddit, which describes itself as “the front page of the internet,” has announced that it will start encrypting all traffic on its site by this month’s end.

“Please ensure that all of your scripts can perform all of their functions over HTTPS by June 29,” said site administrator rram. “At this time we will begin redirecting all site traffic to be over HTTPS and HTTP will no longer be available.” Read more »

Microsoft’s Bing to offer search traffic encryption by default

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Microsoft has announced that the encrypted search feature in Bing, which was rolled out last year and is currently optional, will be available by default in the coming months.

The Redmond, Washington-based company said that while it will continue to send a referrer string (letting marketers and webmasters identify traffic as coming from Bing), the actual query terms will not be passed along. However, some limited query term data will be made available through its various webmaster and advertiser tools, the company noted. Read more »

Amazon mulling paying normal people to deliver its packages

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In an effort to contain shipping costs, Amazon is considering paying ordinary people to deliver its packages, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Internally dubbed On My Way, the service would see the company enlisting physical retailers in urban areas to store the packages. As per the report, the idea is in a very nascent stage, as critical aspects like how deliverers would be paid and who would be responsible if packages are damaged or go missing aren’t yet clear. Read more »

Twitter adds autoplay for videos on iOS and the web, soon Android too

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Following the lead of Facebook, its perpetual competitor in the social network space, Twitter has today announced it’s enabling autoplay for videos. This goes live today on iOS and the web, and it will come to Android soon through an update for Twitter’s app for Google’s platform.

This means exactly what you think it means. From now on, while scrolling through your timeline, videos will automatically start playing. This works with native videos, Vines, and animated GIFs. Read more »

Microsoft now offers its full product range in India through Snapdeal

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Microsoft has taken steps to tremendously extend its online market reach in India. The US tech giant just launched a store on India’s Snapdeal, containing its full range of products. The partnership could potentially be huge for Microsoft, as, it extends the company’s online reach in the vast new market to as many as 5000 cities.

This was perhaps an ideal course of action, as Microsoft can now capitalize on the existing popularity of Snapdeal in India, not to mention the functioning supply chain. Sharlin Thayil, group OEM director at Microsoft India, commented on the expansion: Read more »

LastPass reports security breach, but says encrypted user vault data safe

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Password management company LastPass has revealed that it discovered and blocked suspicious activity on its network last week. While the company is claiming that there was no compromise of user accounts as well as encrypted user vault data, it said that hackers were able to access some information including email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes.

“We are confident that our encryption measures are sufficient to protect the vast majority of users,” the company said in a blog post. “LastPass strengthens the authentication hash with a random salt and 100,000 rounds of server-side PBKDF2-SHA256, in addition to the rounds performed client-side. This additional strengthening makes it difficult to attack the stolen hashes with any significant speed.” Read more »

PlayStation Vue to offer a la carte subscriptions, coming to San Francisco and Los Angeles

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Sony has announced that in July its Internet TV service PlayStation Vue will begin offering a la carte channel subscriptions, allowing users to choose channels that they wish to subscribe instead of entire bundles. The announcement was made by the company at the ongoing E3 gaming expo.

In addition, the company also announced that the service, which is currently available in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, will now be available in San Francisco and in Los Angeles as well. There was, however, no word on the pricing. Read more »