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

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.

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

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.

Tumblr pushes out "very important" security update to iOS app

This morning, Tumblr issued what it called a "very important" security update for its iOS app. The social networking site said that on Tuesday it discovered a vulnerability in the app that could allow passwords to be compromised. Tumblr said that it cannot stress enough the importance of everyone downloading this update as soon as possible.

 

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No details were released as to what the actual vulnerability was or how the intrusion could take place, but the issue appeared to be specific to the iOS app as no information has been posted about a similar vulnerability in the Android or Windows Phone versions of the app. Additionally, Tumblr said that all users of the iOS app should update their passwords after the update has taken place.

WhatsApp removes up-front fee iOS devices, moves to yearly subscription plan

WhatsApp has been quickly making its way to the top of the list for the world's most popular messaging platforms. Just a few months ago, its owners claimed that its servers see more than 10 billion messages pass through each day; that's more than Twitter or even iMessenge. The app is free on Android for the first year and then costs one dollar per year thereafter. Unfortunately for iOS users, until now they had to pay that dollar upfront.

 

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Today, the company announced that it is finally going to bring the iOS version of the app in line with Android and BlackBerry and offer the application free for the first year and then require a one dollar per year subscription thereafter. This move has been planned for quite some time and everyone knew it was coming; we just did not know when.

 

Existing iOS users should be ecstatic to hear that since they've already paid for the app, their subscription to the service will be free for life and they will not be required to pay the one dollar subscription fee each year. I use WhatsApp on a daily basis as it appears to be much faster than my carrier's text messaging service, is quite convenient, and is a free way for me to communicate with my brother and sister who live overseas. While none of us are iOS users, I know a few friends will be happy to hear of this announcement.

Google updates Play Store, includes mentions of Google Glass

Google has updated its Play Store's website to more closely align with the design features of Google Now-style cards, which actually makes the place look a little more organized and much more like the official app. While these updates are cool and certainly needed, the most notable change is the inclusion of apps for Google Glass.

 

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The addition of Google Glass compatibility checks were first spotted by Nicolas Gramlich. It's no surprise that Glass has shown up on the Play Store as Google likes to streamline their device management. Website androidandme.com has also posted a screenshot which appears to be of the official Google Glass app for Android. With these hints, it appears that Google Glass users will officially have access to the Google Play Store any day now.

Continue reading 'Google updates Play Store, includes mentions of Google Glass' (full post)

Foursqure begins displaying ads after check-ins

Foursquare has just stepped up their monetization efforts in an attempt to profit from the actions of its 35+ million users. Beginning today, those who use the service to check in at any location will instantly be served up a targeted ad that may benefit brands sold at the location they are at.

 

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One of the first advertisers to test out this new feature on Foursquare is Captain Morgan, a brand of rum from Diageo. The brand is using Foursquare to suggest a Captain Morgan cocktail to people immediately after they check in at bars, nightclubs, restaurants, or other places where liquor is sold. On the other side of the scale, Toys "R" Us has also been using the service to show coupons to select users who check into kid friendly areas such as parks, pools, and fun zones.

Instagram CEO says the photo-sharing app 'will be the biggest thing in the world', eclipsing Facebook

Instagram's CEO, Kevin Systrom, has some seriously high hopes for his company. Just how high? Sky high. Instagram has come a very long way, with the company being purchased by Facebook for $1 billion last year.

 

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Since then, their user base has expanded by a very hefty 130 million users. Systrom has said that if Instagram continues to grow at this rate, it will not only be bigger than Facebook, but it "will be the biggest thing in the world." I don't know about that, because Kanye West's ego is pretty big, but hey, who am I to judge?

 

I don't see Instagram maintaining this growth without serious change, as they have nothing like Facebook on offer apart from sharing a 15-second video or some pictures. During an interview with Fast Company, the Instagram CEO said: "Now, will we continue to grow at this rate [and outgrow Facebook]? Different question."

Aviary photo editing app makes its way on to Windows Phone 8, offers all paid content for free for limited time

Originally a plug-in for Flickr, Aviary took flight as a powerful image editor for smartphones when it graduated to a standalone application last year. Today, the company announced that it has given the app a complete makeover in preparation for its port to Windows 8. Download the popular Aviary App and add filters and stickers to your photos until your eyes hurt.

 

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To celebrate the Windows Phone 8 release of Aviary, the company is giving away extra in-app DLC packs that include filters and stickers that normally cost Android and iOS users $2 each. These freebies will only last for a limited time and once the event is over, they will revert to the $2 price tag. You can head over to the Windows Phone Store and download your copy of Aviary today by visiting the Source #2 link below.

WhatsApp for Windows Phone 8 gets updated, includes in-app dialing and more

If you're running a smartphone with Windows Phone 8 and use WhatsApp, you might want to make sure it's updated as there's a new version available for WP8 users.

 

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The latest version now promises to fix the notification issues, as well as adding support for Windows Phone background agents as well as in-app dialing. There are over 100 million WhatsApp users, but not many of them are using it on Windows Phone 8 right now. This new update just might help that number increase a little.

Google to shut down Alfred, the local recommendation app, next week on July 19

Lately, it appears that Google is shutting down more of its services than it is creating. Today, we learned that the local recommendations application known as Alfred will cease to exist after July 19. Alfred came to Google back in December 2011 when Google purchased Clever Sense, but development seemed to progress at a snail's pace as Google was focused on making its Google+ Local service better.

 

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Alfred was a sort of a digital concierge that would inform you of the best places to eat, drink, and party based on your taste. At one point it was even being pitched as a Pandora for the real-world. Google did not issue an official blog post about the shutdown like it has for previous service shutdowns such as Reader or Latitude. The announcement came, however, in the form of a notification when users loaded the Alfred app on their mobile device.

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