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Google Maps breaks into 20 additional countries

Google Maps is an incredible part of Google's ecosystem for Android, with the company bringing its Maps and Navigation app to 20 new countries. Google Maps will include free driving, walking, and bike directions to millions of people in the following countries:

 

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  • Angola
  • Bahamas
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Fiji
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • Tobago
  • Trinidad

 

If you're in one of these countries, go and grab Google Maps now!

U.S. military seeking technologies able to dodge missiles

The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) is developing a Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXVT-T) craft that is able to automatically adjust to avoid incoming rockets. However, with the safety effectiveness of armor going down - and the cost of vehicle armor increasing - a futuristic system to assist drivers avoid rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons could be greatly beneficial.

 

 

Military researchers have increasingly improved armor on battlefield vehicles, but have lagged behind new weapons and bombs designed to penetrate armor. The GXV-T program should help disrupt current mechanized warfare by providing new technologies to keep soldiers safe.

 

GXV-T's goal is not to just improve or replace one particular vehicle - it's about breaking the 'more armor' paradigm and revolutionizing projection for all armored fighting vehicles," said Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager. Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved airfraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, save and affordable."

Continue reading 'U.S. military seeking technologies able to dodge missiles' (full post)

Watch a video ad on Spotify Free, get ad-free music for 30 minutes

Spotify is continuing to climb up the music streaming mountain, announcing that it is diving into the video business, offering up video advertising products for its over 30 million free users.

 

 

The new video ads are split into two sides, the first is a brand partner being able to purchase 15- or 30-second "takeover" ads for desktop users. These ads will only be displayed when the desktop client is open, but if not, a normal audio ad will be played instead. The second ad will be offering up mobile users a 30-second commercial, providing them with 30 minutes of ad-free listening.

 

Spotify is able to do this with some big sponsors jumping on-board, such as Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonalds, NBC Universal pictures, Target and Wells Fargo. The music streaming outfit is aiming at a specific group of its users, something the company calls its "highly engaged" audience, users who spend an average of 146 minutes per day, or more, listening across multiple devices. The ads will be pushed into six markets for Q4 2014: Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, the US and the UK. Spotify will roll it out globally sometime in 2015.

Continue reading 'Watch a video ad on Spotify Free, get ad-free music for 30 minutes' (full post)

Temple Run VR has been announced for Samsung's Gear VR headset

There's a new version of the popular Temple Run game coming out, with Temple Run VR being announced for the Gear VR headset from Samsung. The new Temple Run VR moves the games into the snow-topped mountains, all in immersive virtual reality.

 

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Co-founder of Imangi Studios, Keith Shephard, said: "We are incredibly excited to be a part of this revolution in gaming, and we jumped at the opportunity to work with Samsung and Oculus to make Temple RunVR. Virtual reality opens up a whole new world of possibilities for us to create amazing experiences. We've truly been able to transport players to another world and let them viscerally feel the thrill of the chase."

 

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There's no release date for Temple Run VR just yet, but it is one of the biggest games announced for the Galaxy Note 4-powered Gear VR headset. We should expect the Gear VR and Temple Run VR to be released later this year.

WhatsApp sails past 600 million monthly active users

WhatsApp growth doesn't seem to be slowing down, with its CEO Jan Koum tweeting that the mobile messaging app has over 600 million monthly active users. The tweet from Koum wasn't just to brag about the growth of WhatsApp, but that its 600 million users are actually active, compared to its competitors.

 

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Services such as Kik and Line only report on their registered numbers, so we don't know how popular they are at any given time. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp back in February for $19 billion, the company was edging on 500 million users. A couple of months later, in April, WhatsApp hit the 500 million mark, so it has only taken the company another four months to take in another 100 million users.

 

Right now, WhatsApp is free to use for the first year, and just $0.99 per year after. With 600 million monthly active users, the company isn't making much of its half-billion user base, but I'm sure we'll see that change soon when the Facebook acquisition closes later in the year.

Snapchat rumoured to be planning a news service

Absorbing your daily dose of hard-hitting news isn't exactly the first thing Snapchat will conjure up in most people's minds, but that's exactly what the ultra-temporary messaging app is rumoured to be proposing.

 

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12 top media companies are thought to have already been in discussion with the platform about content, and it's thought that video and TV clips could be embedded as well. Details are a little thin on the ground at the moment, but considering Snapchat's absolutely enormous userbase, it's not too much of a surprise the company and potential media partners will want to take advantage.

 

If the rumours are true, it's possible the platform - dubbed Snapchat Discovery for now - could either launch in a standalone app or be integrated into the existing service.

Microsoft launches WindUp app for time-limited messaging

Microsoft has rolled out a new application that is aimed directly at the users out there who have Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 and want to be able to send time-limited messages. The app is called WindUp and is aimed at competing with Snapchat, which has had some privacy issues this year.

 

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The big issue for SnapChat was when a court ruled that the app was deceiving users, but despite that ruling, the app is still popular. WindUp does need several permissions on the smartphone to operate. The good news is that location services aren't one of the things WindUp needs.

 

That means the app can't track your location. The app will allow users to share photos, record audio, capture video, or send text. WindUp is available to download right now.

Facebook kills iOS app bug, reduced crash rate significantly

I would bet that all iOS fans that use the Facebook app has had the app randomly crash on them. Facebook has known about a bug in the iOS version of its app for a long time, but the bug proved difficult to squash. The bug was in the Apple Core Data system and finally engineers have fixed the issue.

 

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With the bug addressed, they say that the iOS version of the Facebook app has reduced its crash rate by more than 50%. The team needed months to create the correct approach for the crash issue and it involved multiple steps.

 

After coming to the correct path to fix the error, the engineering team worked with the networking team and had the issue repaired in a few hours. Facebook engineers Slobodan Predolac and Nicholas Spiegelberg said, "Dealing with a large, rapidly evolving codebase can seem overwhelming at times. Everyday tasks like analyzing crashes and understanding code can turn into their own programming challenges. At these moments, it's important to work together, brainstorm, and rely on computer programming fundamentals."

iPhone trick claims to let you skip Facebook Messenger and still chat

Facebook users have been upset a bit of late with the social network trying to remove chat services from its normal app and get users to download a second app to chat called Facebook Messenger. Some have been upset over privacy concerns with Messenger and don't want to use it. If you are one of these people, you can use a trick that has surfaced that claims to allow you to skip Facebook Messenger and still chat.

 

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The trick seems rather simple. Reports indicate that all the iPhone user has to do is hit the install Messenger button when the normal Facebook app prompts them. While the Messenger app is being installed, switch to the App Store and stop the installation or delete the app.

 

Once you reopen the normal Facebook app, you should still have your chat capability and no more annoying prompts. This could all change if Facebook finds this trick and updates the app to look harder for Messenger. Let us know if this works for you.

Microsoft launches Snipp3t iOS app for celebrity news

Microsoft has launched a new iOS app that aims at people who are into knowing what is going on with their favorite celebrities at any time. The app is called Snipp3t and it launched recently. The app lets users follow celebrities to get news in a timeline style format.

 

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It sounds sort of like Facebook for celebs, only communications are a one-way street it seems. The news from the people followed via the app is offered in a timeline-style format with news specifically from those you follow mixed with more general trending posts.

 

Each of the events that are trending will have multiple media reports, images, tweets, and related videos. The app does connect via Facebook so users can sign in and share stories to the social network. The app is available now in the US and only on iOS with no word on more countries or Android/Windows Phone support.

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