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Twitter #music has some new superpowers, includes Spotify and Rdio

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Social Networking | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 11:34 am

Twitter has increased the feature set of its #music service, adding two music streaming companies to the mix: Spotify and Rdio. These two music streaming services will now offer the ability to view playlists generated by Twitter #music.

 

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Popular songs and songs with the #NowPlaying hashtag will be featured, with users being able to view all 15 of the playlists on the #music page, as well as the apps. This is just another step in the ever-evolving world of Twitter, which is looking to go public in the very near future, and another great step to see more users continue to use Spotify and Rdio.

Sony competes with the Chromecast with its Bravia Smart Stick

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 10:33 am

We've already seen Google launch its Chromecast device, but now it looks like Sony wants to rub shoulders in the Google TV space with its new NSZ-HU1 Google TV device. This is known in the retail world as the Sony BRAVIA Smart Stick.

 

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The BRAVIA Smart Stick is an MHL dongle that runs both Google TV and Sony's BRAVIA apps. It has a remote with a QWERTY keyboard and voice search support. The picture-in-picture feature lets you see a browser in one window, and the TV in another. The BRAVIA Smart Stick can run Android apps from the Google Play Store, but we should know more details when it is released properly. Hopefully this means we see Sony shipping non-Smart TVs, and then throw in the BRAVIA Smart Stick as an optional, but cool accessory.

Developers say that the PS4 is 50% faster than the Xbox One

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming Consoles | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 9:32 am

Well, well, shots fired from a certain developer according to an interview with game developers that Edge spoke to, who said that the PlayStation 4 runs most non-optimized games 50% faster than the Xbox One. Edge's sources have said that memory reads are around 40-50% faster on the PS4, and the built-in Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) is also around 50% faster.

 

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What will this result in for gamers? A PS4 rendering a high-quality scene at around 30FPS at 1920x1080, while the Xbox One will struggle with just 20FPS... but at just 1600x900. Edge said that one developer event went as far as saying that the Xbox One's ESRAM is a "pain." Does this news coincide with the latest reports that Microsoft has been increasing the CPU and GPU clocks speeds of the Xbox One in the weeks leading up to mass production? It would sure as hell make sense now, wouldn't it?

 

One developer that Edge spoke to said: "The clock speed update is not significant. It does not change things that much. Of course, something is better than nothing." Before you jump to conclusions, remember that the PS4 won't be better at everything, as this is just for "non-optimized games." The Xbox One does have some parts of its internals that are superior to the PS4, such as complicated rendering techniques like raytracing and procedural generation.

Samsung investing $500 million into new testing facility in China

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 8:31 am

It looks like Samsung is putting down $500 million to build a new testing facility in Xi'an, an industrial city in Northwest China. The new facility will see packaging and testing done under its roof, and is the South Korean giants latest investment in a string of investments for its future in the last couple of months.

 

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The new facility will be built in the same city that Samsung built a $7 billion chip plant in last year, on top of the $1.7 billion it spent in 2012 on improving its operations in the manufacturing hub Kunshan. All of these steps that Samsung has made are all part of a $41.4 billion capital expansion that Samsung started last year. The electronics giant has seen gigantic success in the mobile devices segment, and is now packed with cash.

 

The company is using its flow of cash to invest in its future, which we're constantly seeing. In its Chinese supply chain network, Samsung has over 250 manufacturers, which is definitely saying something. The new factory will begin construction in January next year, and should be finished by the end of 2014.

Google's new moonshot wants to see language barriers removed

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Apps | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 7:32 am

Google's most far-fetched ideas that might seem crazy or simply impossible to its competitors, are called "moonshots." Google's next moonshot is to remove language barriers, with news of development starting on a voice-enabled universal translation system.

 

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Google has reportedly started work on the voice-enabled translator smartphone app, that is currently capable of translating 24 different languages. Google's head of Translate, Franz Josef Och, has said that the voice-enabled translator is quite slow at the moment, but mentions the improvements made in Google's text-based Translation service over the years, stating that the voice-enabled service will see the same improvements over the eyars.

 

Considering over 200 million users used the Google Translate service last year alone, Google's new moonshot is definitely worth pursuing. I'd love to have something that would get the dialect right in non-English speaking countries. I'd love to be able to travel to Taipei for Computex in a few years time, speak into a translate app and have it speak fluently to the taxi driver, or someone at 7/11 or a restaurant. Come on Google, reach for the moon.

Dell will not be making another smartphone anytime soon

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 7:28 am

It looks like Dell, who is now a private company, will not be rushing back into the smartphone space anytime soon. Dell founder, Michael Dell, spoke with CNBC recently, saying that his company won't be making a new smartphone anytime soon.

 

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He also said that his company would only act as a reseller of other companies' devices, and going into the future, Dell will be taking a longer-term view with its investments and would focus more time and energy into long-term growth instead of trying to impress with quarterly figures.

The Windows Phone Store now sees over 9 million daily transactions

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 6:33 am

Microsoft isn't seeing game-changing success with its Windows Phone platform, but this might change in the years coming with its acquisition of Nokia's Device and Services division. In the meantime, the Redmond-based giant is enjoying a new milestone on its Windows Phone Store.

 

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The Windows Phone Store now sees 9 million transactions per day, which is made up from a combination of app and in-app purchases. The news comes from WP Store General Manager, Todd Brix. If we extend it into per-month statistics, we're looking at around 270 million per month, which is an increase of 70 million more downloads per month when compared to the numbers in June. Things are about to change for the Windows Phone Store though.

 

You'll now start seeing more ads than you will see new ads, with Microsoft issuing unique device IDs to new advertising partners. These new UDIDs won't be linked to specific devices, and the company has said that it won't give out identifiable information. You can opt out of these targeted ads if you choose, by clicking here and having a poke around.

Google updates Maps, navigation is now faster, and more

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Apps | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 5:31 am

Google never sleeps, and thankfully, as we have an updated Google Maps app that now includes a bunch of improvements. First off, navigation speeds have been improved, with complete route and traffic overviews.

 

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Bug fixes and stability improvements have been baked in, with the full change log below:

 

  • Faster access to navigation, complete with route and traffic overview
  • Improved hotel search results with sponsored rates and booking links
  • Tips and Tricks available in the side menu
  • Bug fixes

 

You can grab the updated Google Maps app here, if your device hasn't already automatically updated. It should begin rolling out later tonight to those of you who haven't read this news yet.

Netflix uses pirate sites to decide on which TV shows to purchase

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 5:14 am

According to Netflix's Vice President of Content Acquisition, Kelly Merryman, the company partly determines which shows it should buy based on the popularity of such shows on file-sharing platforms, which should come as quite the shock.

 

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The video streaming company sees itself as one of the biggest competitors to pirate sites, where Netflix offers a subscription-based model, and pirate sites offering it for free. But, while the pirate sites may offer it for free and make money from ads and other sources, Netflix uses these sites to gain information on which shows are popular, which helps them decide on which content they should acquire for their ever-growing base of customers.

 

This week, the video streaming giant rolled out its Netflix service to the Netherlands, with Merryman stating: "With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites." Mellyman used Prison Break as a prime example, saying that Netflix acquired the rights to the Wentworth Miller starring prison drama because it is heavily pirated locally. Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, even commented, saying that the company is aware that people download content without permission through pirate sites.

 

He does add though, that this isn't all bad, because it also creates business for Netflix: "Certainly there's some torrenting that goes on, and that's true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand. Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don't have to deal with files, you don't have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch ."

HTC America lays off 20% of its employees, continues its nose dive

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Sep 15, 2013 4:39 am

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has been in a downward spiral for quite a while now, with a little bit of help in the last couple of months coming from its latest flagship handset, the HTC One. But now there are reports that HTC has laid off 30 employees and contractors from its HTC America division.

 

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30 employees might not seem like a lot, but it amounts to 20% of HTC's employees in the US. A statement was given to The Verge, which said that these layoffs are strategic moves in order to help HTC "streamline and optimize our organization." We don't know which departments have seen employees packing their bags, but they might actually be helped by HTC. Jason Mackenzie, President of HTC America said in a letter to employees that those hit with the layoff news will be 'treated with respect' and the company will help them out with resources to continue their careers elsewhere.

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