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Mega announces video calling service called MegaChat

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Kim Dotcom, controversial founder of the online file sharing service Mega, has announced a new service called MegaChat. MegaChat is a video calling service that competes with Skype and integrates within the Mega service within your web browser.

The main draw of MegaChat is that it is end-to-end encrypted. This is unlike Skype, which has in the past revealed to have allowed the NSA to monitor communications. MegaChat also does not require installing an application and can be accessed from within your web browser. It also uses Mega’s file sharing feature to securely share encrypted files over the video chat. Read more »

WhatsApp Web officially launches for Google Chrome, yet sans iOS support for now

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The much leaked Web interface for WhatsApp is now live. As you may have imagined, this allows you to use your computer to send and receive WhatsApp messages. But, true to this app’s very obvious “mobile first” mantra, the Web client is acting simply as an extension of your phone.

Thus, all the messages still actually live on your handset, they’re just shown to you on the Web as well. So your phone needs to be connected to the Internet while you’re using WhatsApp Web on your computer, keep that in mind. Read more »

Lyft is ditching its signature “furry” pink moustache in favour of a smaller Glowstache

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Ride-sharing startup Lyft, whose cars are identified by a large pink moustache attached to the front, is getting rid of its signature Carstache, and replacing it with the Glowstache – a much smaller, plastic mustache (about the size of a banana), that glows during night, and is designed to float on Lyft drivers’ dashboards using magnets.

“It was this big giant fuzzy thing,” said Lyft President John Zimmer, referring to the Carstache. “If you were going to an important business meeting, it might not be the best way to roll up.” Read more »

Plex arrives on the PlayStation in America

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Media streaming service Plex has released their popular app for the PlayStation platform (PS4 and PS3) in North and South America. The app was previously launched on the platform in December but only available in Europe until now.

Plex is a local streaming service that streams local content from the Plex media server on your computer to the Plex app running on your mobile device, game console, smart tv, or something like the Chromecast or Apple TV. Read more »

The Interview will arrive on Netflix on January 24

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Netflix will begin streaming Sony’s controversial movie ‘The Interview’ this Saturday, on January 24. The content delivery giant delivered the new in its Q4 financial report.

The above new means that Netflix will be streaming the movie a month before it is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Read more »

Apple sending notices of termination to registered developers in Crimea

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The deepening dispute between the US and Russia over Crimea has started affecting the tech world, as Apple has begun sending notices of termination to Registered Apple Developers (RAD) residing in the disputed region, a move that will prevent them from publishing apps in the App Store.

“The new sanctions on the Crimea Region announced by the US Government on December 19, 2014 and announced by the European Commission on December 18, 2014 prohibit the continuation of the RAD Agreement between you and Apple,” the Cupertino-based company said in the notice. “For more information, please review Executive Order 13685 and the European Commission Notice.” Read more »

Now South Carolina slaps Uber with a cease-and-desist order

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Just over a month after the city of Portland, Oregon issued Uber a cease-and-desist order, the company has been slapped with a similar order in South Carolina. The Public Service Commission of South Carolina has ordered the company to stop operating until it gets a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required by law for any motor vehicle carrier, including taxi cab services.

“Consumers benefit from, and deserve choices in, the marketplace. However, those choices must be consistent with state law intended to protect the public,” said the Commission in a legal filing which names Rasier LLC, a wholly-owned Uber subsidiary that operates the company’s UberX service. Read more »

Web version of Google’s Play Store receives a slight redesign

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Google’s updated a lot of Android apps recently, but now it’s apparently the turn of its Web-based Play Store. This is in the process of receiving a slight redesign. The rollout seems to be gradual, but more and more people are reporting seeing the new Play Store on the Web.

The main new thing unfortunately isn’t 100% adherence to Material Design. That’s still not available, but in the meantime the “Similar” apps list has been moved. Read more »

Uber outsmarting covert transport officials by blocking their accounts

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Like many places around the world, UberX is illegal in most Australian states, as the law clearly says that ridesharing services must be provided in a licensed taxi or hire car, by a driver holding a taxi driver’s license, and that’s the reason why the country’s transport officials have been conducting sting operations to fine UberX drivers. However, according to an ABC report, the company is outsmarting transport inspectors by blocking their smartphones from accessing the service.

The report cites emails obtained under Queensland’s Right To Information (RTI) laws, revealing the problems being faced by undercover investigators tasked with penalizing the service’s drivers. “Due to blocking by Uber, only two covert rides were undertaken [today],” said an official from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in an email to colleagues last year, adding that “time was spent purchasing new credit cards, activating Gmail accounts, and setting up two more phones.” Read more »

Facebook At Work is the social network for your office

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Facebook may be ubiquitous in people’s personal lives, but not that much when it comes to intra-office communications. The company obviously wants to change that, so it’s launching Facebook At Work.

This is best described as the social network for your workplace. It has mobile apps for Android and iOS, which should launch today, as well as a website that’s accessible from computers. It looks like Facebook, but will get your company’s branding. Oh, and Facebook won’t show ads inside it, nor will it track what you do or hold your data. Read more »

Under 10% of adults use wearables, 80% use smartphones; Android tops iOS, study says

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The wearables market may have created a lot of buzz over the past few quarters, but looks like it will take some more time for that buzz to convert into genuine consumer interest. According to a latest research report from GlobalWebIndex, which surveyed around 170,000 adult internet users across 32 markets, only 9% said they have a smartwatch, and even less, 7%, said they own smart wristbands.

In contrast, around 80% of the people surveyed said they own a smartphone. While that’s undoubtedly a major chunk, it’s still less than the proportion (91%) using PCs. As for Android vs iOS, the data presented in the report puts the former far ahead of the latter (see image below). Read more »

Spotify now has 15 million paid subscribers

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Spotify is undoubtedly one of the biggest revolutions to come to the audio industry ever since Napster was stirring up heat online. With the New Year the music master has a lot to be proud of as it recently announced that it now has 15 million paid subscribers and the whopping 60 million plus active users.

Last November these very same numbers were circling around 10 million paid and 40 million total users, so this represents a huge leap forward and foretells a bright future for the streaming service, provided that legal issues don’t get too severe. Read more »

Google’s December search share falls to its lowest since 2008, Yahoo gains

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Following a November deal that saw Yahoo replacing Google as the default search engine on Firefox browser in the United States, the former’s Internet search market share for the month of December jumped to 10.4% from 8.6% the previous month, and 7.4% a year ago, according to analytics firm StatCounter. That’s the highest share for Yahoo in the last five years.

On the other hand, search giant Google saw its December market share drop to 75.2% from 77.3% the previous month, and 79.3% a year ago, making it the lowest for the company since 2008, when StatCounter started tracking the data. Meanwhile, Microsoft Bing’s market share stood at 12.5%. Read more »

Google announces Cast for audio, connecting speakers to music in the cloud

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So far the Google Cast streaming protocol has been used with video in mind – after all, it is powering the Chromecast, the company’s very successful HDMI stick. But today Google has announced Cast for audio.

This will work in a very similar way to video casting, but it naturally won’t send video, just audio, to supported speakers. Like with the Chromecast, these won’t get the content from your mobile device – rather, they’ll connect directly to the Internet and fetch it from there, saving you battery life for your phone or tablet in the process. Read more »

Netflix starts blocking VPN users

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Netflix maybe an excellent service, full of great content, which can be accessed from pretty much any device these days, but it is also seriously limited geographically. Due to licensing issues, the service can be accessed from only a handful of countries around the world, and even then the content is not the same everywhere.

To get around the location issue, many of the users have been using VPN. Unfortunately, the movie studios aren’t too happy with that, which has resulted in Netflix slowly starting to block VPN services. Read more »