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One of the best things that BlackBerry has going for it right now is that its BlackBerry Messenger or BBM service is very popular with users. BlackBerry is working on opening that BBM ecosystem up to other smartphone users and has announced that it has now launched the BBM app for Windows Phone users.
The big draw for BBM is that it promises to be a secure service for messaging. Last year BlackBerry launched an app for people on the Android operating system and iOS allowing them to use BBM from those rival devices.
With the addition of the BBM for Windows Phone app, the major platforms are now supported. Keeping the BBM platform closed for so long and only allowing BlackBerry devices to use it hurt the service and made it hard to compete with WhatsApp and other rivals for secure messaging.
For users of the Slacker-based Milk Music Premium service from Samsung, you'll be delighted to hear that Samsung is now offering offline listening for its $4 per month Premium option.
The free and paid tiers both remain ad-free, for now, so there's no need to push for the Premium option right now unless you want access to the offline listening side of things. But for $4 per month, you can't complain too much. Samsung will most likely start pumping ads into the free version of Milk Music in the near future, making the Premium option look a little better.
Instagram has announced that it is launching its new instant messaging app, Bolt, in three countries today: New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Bolt allows you to send one-tap photo and video messages to your friends.
An Instagram spokesperson explained why we have a limited launch of Bolt: "We decided to start small with Bolt, in just a handful of countries, to make sure we can scale while maintaining a great experience. We expect to roll it out more widely soon". Users will be able to sign up to Bolt using their phone number, without requiring an e-mail address.
From there, they can add friends to their list, and start tapping away to send photos and videos to their friends. Bolt also includes support for text captions, and you can also reply with text, or photos. Bolt works similar to how Snapchat works, where it throws messages away after you've swiped them to the side.
There are many mobile wallet apps out there that allow you to do things like store credit cards and debit cards. There are also different wallet apps that allow you to send money digitally to other users. Amazon has launched a new wallet app called Amazon Wallet that is designed to be used at the point of sale in stores.
Amazon Wallet lacks some of the features you might expect with an inability to store credit cards or debit cards and no ability to send payments. That may not be a big deal to some security conscious users out there. What Amazon Wallet can do is store your gift cards and loyalty cards.
Using the app, you can scan or type in gift card and loyalty card numbers. The goal is to help you reduce clutter in your wallet. Perhaps future updates will let you add in credit and debit cards for use at the point of sale. The Amazon Wallet app is available on the Amazon Appstore and Google Play.
It looks like Google has made the first move in cleaning up its Play store, where it has made it clearer to know what an actual free game is, versus a game that will feature in-app purchases.
The European Commission has requested Google change the way that it markets apps shown on digital storefronts like the Google Play store, with the company moving forward to keep its consumers better informed. This now includes no longer putting up with apps with in-app purchases to call themselves "free". The Mountain View-based search giant has said that it will install new guidelines for games and developers so that kids won't be encouraged to buy items once they are in the game.
The European Commission has taken Apple to task over in-app purchases, asserting that the Cupertino company has failed to protect consumers from their kids racking up enormous bills in misleading "free" apps.
Following a deluge of complaints across the continent, the Commission approached individual countries to consult on what could be done, before approaching Google and Apple themselves. According to the EC, Google decided on some appropriate changes that are due by September this year. Part of Google's proposals included scrubbing the term "free" from any apps that enabled in-app purchases. But the EC insisted it had not yet heard anything concrete from Apple. "No firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes," the EC said in a statement. "CPC authorities will continue to engage with Apple to ensure that it provides specific details of changes required and put its practices into line with the common position."
Apple suggested the protections currently in place are enough as they are. "The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable," a spokesperson told the Irish Independent. "And over the last year we've made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked."
Samsung is making some changes to its app store, most notably the Samsung app store has a new name, and Samsung is now calling its app store Galaxy Apps and has added some new features to the mix as well. Galaxy Apps has a new interface, branding, and hundreds of new apps to go along with the name change.
The apps in Galaxy Apps store are divided into categories with four sections including Galaxy Gifts, Galaxy Essentials, Apps for Professionals, and Galaxy Specials. Apps in the Specials category are created using Samsung SDKs.
Samsung wants Galaxy Apps to give more customization options to users of its mobile phones. It also wants the Galaxy Apps store to act as a platform for publicizing promotions and deals.
Since SwiftKey decided to offer its unbelievably awesome keyboard for free on the Google Play store, the company has noticed a massive 54% increase in the amount of monthly users.
This is what happens when you drop a great product that people were willing to pay $3.99 for, to $0. Once SwiftKey had moved into the free territory, the company has seen both paid, and free themes downloaded over 12 million times. Customized keyboards seem to be popular, something that the company has discovered since it made SwiftKey free.
If you are using an Android Wear device like a smartwatch, a new update to the official Google Camera app has landed that gives your smartwatch a new feature. The Android Wear platform now has the ability to act as a remote shutter button for your smartphone camera.
With the update applied, users can tap on the watch face to take a picture with their phone. Once the screen is touched, a countdown appears. The image taken can be previewed on the watch face as well.
The update is available via Google Play right now. Users wanting to take a different route can also sideload the update to the Android device.
Smartphone cab app Uber is planning a fare cut to match the cheapest taxis in New York, the latest in a worldwide drive to match or undercut the traditional taxi competition.
UberX, the cheapest available service from the company, has had its price slashed by 20 percent, putting it on an even keel with New York's iconic yellow cabs. It follows cost cutting efforts in San Francisco and Boston. As a result, UberX drivers will be forced to accept lower fares, but the company insisted it could actually produce an upturn in revenues for workers. "What we've seen in cities across the country is that lower fares mean greater demand, lower pickup times and more trips per hour increasing earning potential and creating better economics for drivers," Uber said in a blog post. "What does what mean in the long run? They'll be making more than ever!"
Just last month, taxi drivers in London protested en masse in response to Uber - citing safety concerns and insisting the company's model was actually illegal. However, the British capital's transport authority just ruled in Uber's favor, leaving it free to operate in the city.