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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 »

The Interview becomes Sony’s no. 1 online film of all time

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Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has revealed that its latest release The Interview has become the studio’s top grossing online film of all time. Made from a budget of $44 million, the movie managed to pulled in more than $15 million in online sales through the first four days of the holidays alone.

“Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times,” SPE said in a statement. This compares with the estimated $2.8 million the movie made over the same time period in theaters, although that was a limited release. Read more »

Apple iTunes is the latest outlet to offer The Interview

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Apple iTunes is the latest outlet that offers the controversial movie ‘The Interview’ for rent or purchase. Cupertino is asking $5.99 for a 24-hour rental of the flick or $14.99 to own it.

Starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, ‘The Interview’ has been available online since December 24. Read more »

Sony will likely stream ‘The Interview’ on YouTube and Google Play (updated)

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Apart from showing the highly controversial ‘The Interview’ in 300-odd cinemas around the US on Christmas Day, Sony may also be be streaming the movie on YouTube, among other services.

Update: the movie is now available to stream from a number of outlets including Google Play, YouTube Movies, Xbox Video, and the website The Interview costs $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to own. Read more »

Amazon’s newly launched Prime Now service offers one- and two-hour deliveries

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Amazon has announced a new service that offers one-hour and two-hour delivery of daily essentials via a mobile app. Dubbed Prime Now, the service is only available to Amazon Prime members, who can use it to get products like paper towels, shampoo, books, toys, batteries, and more expressly delivered from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

The service is currently available in selected areas of Manhattan, although the company is encouraging all Prime members to download the new Prime Now app, which is available for both iOS and Android, saying that they will be notified when the service launches in their area. Read more »

Robin Williams, World Cup and Ebola top Google’s 2014 search

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It’s that time of the year when we can take time and look back at what gathered the most attention. There’s no better place to do that than Google’s search – the most popular tool on the internet.

Google has rounded off the most popular searches and stories in its rebranded Year in Search 2014, formerly Google Zeitgeist. The most searched topic on Google for 2014 was Robin Williams’ passing followed by the FIFA World Cup, the Ebola outbreak, Malaysia Airlines’ lost MH370 flight, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and many more. Read more »

YouTube now lets you easily create animated GIFs from (some) videos

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YouTube is apparently testing a new feature to be added to the Share menu which you can find underneath each video on the site. Alongside sharing via social networks, emailing someone a link to the video, and embedding it on your website, on certain channels a GIF option has magically appeared.

And yes, this is exactly what you think it is – an extremely easy way to create animated GIFs. For now, the feature only seems to have surfaced next to videos uploaded by PBS’ Idea Channel. Since Google hasn’t officially announced the automated GIF maker, this may be just a test – or an extremely slow rollout. 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 »