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New "Swell" app is like Pandora for audio news, gets backed with $5.4 million in funding

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Apps | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 2:10 pm

A new app has just hit the smartphone markets and it aims to serve up audio news much in the same way the Pandora handles music. Swell actually launched back in June and featured content from NPR, American Public Media, ABC news, the BBC, Ted talks, and many others. Today, the company announced that they have raised $5.4 million in Series A funding.

 

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This round was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and included investors like Google Ventures, InterWest Partners, and Correlation Ventures among others. This tops the company's seed funding round by almost $3 million, which was led by Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, DFJ, Andreessen Horowitz, and other angel investors.

 

Swell works much like Pandora and once you start the app, you just let it run. In the event you don't like what it's playing, simply swipe to skip it. You're also able to choose topics that appeal better to you such as technology, world news, health and wellness, and many more. With it being out in the wild for over a month, it appears that the app is a success with the company saying that users listen for 30 minutes on average their first time using the app and returning users spending more than 110 minutes per week using the app.

In Russia, smartphone buys you - three major Russian carriers ditch the iPhone

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 10:23 am

Three of the major wireless carriers in Russia, MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom have all ditched the iPhone, saying that tough contractual requirements are the reason they're not going to be selling the iPhone from now on.

 

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VimpelCom were the last Russian carrier to push away from Apple, saying that they've now got Samsung at the top of their list of smartphone manufacturers to promote, which is second only to their own BeeLine brand of smartphones. VimpelCom dropped Apple because of their "draconian contracts" and "harsh conditions... especially in the marketing department," according to Dmitry Ryabinin, Chief Analyst for Russian Hi-Tech.

 

Have Apple jumped the iShark? I think they have. It's only going to get worse from here on out, folks.

HTC teases us all, will have a 'little' bit of news for the world today

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 8:25 am

HTC have taken to their UK Twitter account to tease the world, showing off the picture below, as well as saying that they've got "a 'little' bit of news tomorrow".

 

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Well, tomorrow is today by the time you read this, so we should expect something new from HTC. I'm thinking we should expect the smaller, HTC One Mini, but I could be wrong. I don't think I am, and I think HTC are going to continue their rampage with the HTC One Mini. We should find out in just a few hours time, I guess.

Forza 5 won't include all of the game content on the Blu-ray, you'll need to download content before you play

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 7:29 am

Next-gen gaming is upon us, and it is a weird world we're about to step into. With Forza 5, you'll need to download game content from the Internet before you can buy the game. Yes, even after you've inserted your Blu-ray copy of the game into your console.

 

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Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt, when speaking with IGN, explained that there is actually a good reason behind this: "So when you first boot up the game, we're going to ask you to log in. And when you log in you're going to get the Drivatars and you're also going to get a whole bunch of content: tracks and cars. Our production schedule is such that we are putting them in as late as possible and that means making them free as downloadable content on Day One."

 

So it's not technically DLC, because it's part of the game. I'm kind of on the fence about this, what about those with slow Internet connections? But, it means you get up-to-date content, which is a nice touch. It also gives developers a few extra days to do some last minute changes to the content, which hopefully means we get less issues, and better games.

Chrome for iOS updated, includes a bunch of new features and 'experimental' data compression

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Apps | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 6:26 am

Google have released a very nice update to Chrome for iOS which now includes some highly anticipated features such as fullscreen web browsing on the iPad, and giving users full access to their browsing history.

 

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Chrome for iOS now includes improved integration with Google's other apps on iOS, where after you've signed into your Google account in Chrome, you can quickly sign into other Google apps with a single tap. You can also choose to have certain links open in the native Maps, YouTube, Google+ and Google Driev apps, instead of displaying them in Chrome.

 

Something Google decided to throw into the Chrome for iOS bag of tricks is an experimental data compression service. This feature has been on the beta version of Chrome for Android for a few months now, but iOS users can now play around with it. I've been using it on my smartphone for a few weeks and it definitely feels snappier to browse the Internet. You can download the latest version of Chrome for iOS from the Apple App Store, here.

RumorTT: Dell's shareholders could vote against the buyout

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 5:27 am

Dell were meant to be going private, after various investor meetings and reports, but new reports are suggesting that the company might not be going private.

 

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The news comes from The Wall Street Journal, who is citing unnamed sources who are familiar with the deal, who state that at least three of the biggest shareholders groups are planning to vote against Dell CEO, Michael Dell, and his $24.4 billion buyout bid. These firms are said to be the Vanguard Group, State Street Corp., and BlackRock.

 

The vote won't happen until later today, but it looks like Dell could be in some trouble here if shareholders start rocking the boat.

Valve approves Half-Life modders who want to build standalone co-op version of Half-Life

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 4:29 am

Half-Life is one of my favorite games ever, and after fifteen years on the market, the Sven Co-op team have been granted full access to the standalone game based on the mod.

 

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This means that the team will modify the engine to their liking, going as far as adding new features that should provide stability, performance and even gameplay improvements to all. We should expect bigger and more detailed worlds, with automatic updates delivered through Steam's content delivery system, 'SteamPipe'.

 

Better yet, Sven Co-op's next version of the game will be free and will include the official Half-Life campaign for co-op play - oh, yeah. If you don't already own Half-Life - and let's face it, if you don't, there's something wrong - you won't have to purchase it, as this version will be free. No ETA has been made, so we don't know when to expect it at all unfortunately.

RumorTT: Acer preparing a thinner, lighter 8-inch Iconia W3 tablet

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 3:31 am

Acer are the only ones on the market with an 8-inch Windows 8-based tablet, and it looks like they're set to capitalize on this part of the market. A new report claims that the 8-inch slate is going to be refreshed in September, only a few months after it was unveiled.

 

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The refreshed Iconia W3 would fix some of the issues that consumers and reviewers found in the original, as well as arriving slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor. Tweakers.net report that the TN-based panel of the current W3 could be replaced with a better quality IPS-based panel. This would help the 1280x800-pixel display provide much better image quality than the current W3 provides.

Smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2017

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 2:26 am

Smartphones are everywhere these days, with some people even having more than one, but just how many smartphones are expected to ship in the coming years?

 

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According to IHS, smartphone shipments are expected to break through 1.5 billion units in 2017, with Android accounting for 1 billion of those. IHS estimates that smartphone shipments will reach close to 900 million before the end of this year, with Apple making up 150 million of those units. Compared to 2012, where Apple sold 134 million iPhones, this increase is not big at all.

 

IHS' Senior Analyst, Wayne Lam, has said that "possible slowing growth of the iPhone" as well as "the rapid pace of competitive smartphone releases speak to the ferocious nature of the handset business."

Have you always wanted a robot that can paint in watercolor? Kickstarter has one

By: Charles Gantt | More News: | Posted: Jul 18, 2013 1:03 am

Here at TweakTown, I have one rule about Kickstarter campaigns and that is that they have to seriously impress me and think very far outside of the box before I will back them. Fortunately, Sylvia's WaterColorBot has done just that. This robot is actually capable of painting you a cartoonish painting out of the same kind of watercolor paints we all used as a child.

 

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Unfortunately, the team needs to source $50,000 to get the project up off the ground and start manufacturing the WaterColorBots. Luckily for you, a small pledge of just $295 will secure your unassembled DIY kit. As not only a maker but a creative in general, this robot makes me smile on a level that no 3-D printer ever has. It's so simple yet so complex at the same time that I cannot help but get excited about it. If you want to pick one up for yourself, head over to Source #1 to check out the full Kickstarter.

Continue reading 'Have you always wanted a robot that can paint in watercolor? Kickstarter has one' (full post)

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