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With mobile broadband growing faster than traditional landline broadband, it is important to keep a watchful eye on the companies who sell the service to its customers. Today the FCC released an app for Android that will do just that. The all new Speed Test app from the FCC is designed to inform consumers of the actual broadband speeds their mobile data plan is providing them.
After installation the app will run in the background on the consumers mobile device and will periodically run a Speed Test scan in the background. The results will then be uploaded to a database that the FCC will use to compare with carrier claims. The FCC says that the app will not consume more than 100MB of data each month, so users wiil data restrictions need not worry.
Almost half a year ago, Google announced its music streaming service known as Google Play Music. Much like Spotify, Google Play Music is a monthly subscription-based music streaming service with hundreds of thousands of songs waiting to be listened to. In the beginning, the service was only available on Android and through a Web App, but this morning Google released the streaming service to iOS.
Google Play Music for iOS retains most of the features that are seen on the Android version, and initial reports say that it is very refined for iOS and feels like it is a native Apple-built app. It will be interesting to see how reviews of the service stack up against iTunes Music, and if iOS customers will open up to the $9.99 per month price that is required to access Google Play Music. Personally, I am still calling Spotify the best streaming service on mobile and the web. I have been a subscriber since it hit the US and have yet to find any flaws.
Dropbox has announced some changes in its cloud storage goodness, where it won't stop Dropbox for Business users from combining their personal Dropbox accounts on the same device.
From now on, Dropbox will allow personal and business users to combine their cloud storage content, but it will still allow business IT departments to keep business as business, keeping users out of their personal storage. You can now link your Dropbox accounts together if that's what you're after, where you'll see two accounts on mobile devices as separate folders: Business and Personal.
Coin is made by a company that is based in San Francisco. It looks like a credit card but can store up to eight different cards that can either be debit, credit, gift or even membership cards. Coin uses an app and a card reader adapter for your smartphone to input all your cards into one. It uses a magnetic strip on the back much like a regular card but with a press of a button it can cycle through your cards and change the strip. Coin detects if you get certain distance away from it and will tell your smartphone with an alert sound if you accidentally leave it behind. It does this using Bluetooth Low Energy, which is the same thing used in most smartwatches and fitness tracking devices. The device does not have a changeable or rechargeable battery, but the battery in the Coin lasts two years and at that point you replace the unit.
Coin isn't available yet, but you can get your hands on one next summer. The company has started a campaign through their site and is looking to raise $50,000. At launch it'll be available for $100 but early backers can get them for $50.
Now when users utilize Google Voice Commands, their Android phone may talk back to them. In a recent Google Now update, the company has added conversational voice commands that react to user commands and queries much like Apple's Siri does. Users can give their device a verbal command such as "Send a text message," and the phone will ask who to send the message to.
The service is quite handy, but it is not completely hands free yet, as it will not read search phrases back to you like Siri does, This update greatly improves the voice command functionality on Android, and after trying it out for myself, I have to say that I like it. For now the update only affects Android phones, but it is safe to assume that Google will roll it out with search features on the iPhone eventually.
I admit it: I used to be a huge Facebook Messenger user, but I've converted over to Hangouts for most of my chat now. I still use Messenger for chatting with people I can't chat with on Hangouts, but Messenger has just received a new update, and it looks swish.
It was previously only made available for a limited number of users, but now it has rolled out to the public, with an all-new design and fresh new features. We have a nice white and light blue design, as well as improved performance, and new chat features. The new chat features include the ability to message people with just their phone number, which is a nice touch.
You can grab the latest version of Facebook Messenger from the Google Play Store, if your device hasn't auto-updated already.
Nokia's Refocus app may be one of the most highly anticipated apps of the year, and since its unveiling, every Lumia owner out there has been chomping at the bits to get their hands on it. Today their wait was ended when Nokia launched the app at the Finnish conference known as Slush.
The App allows users to tweak their previously taken images by adjusting focus points, as well as selectively removing or replacing colors. Additionally the app lets users friends play with their photos as well. "It gives more context of the story you want to tell," said Samuli Hänninen, vice president of software program management for Nokia's Smart Devices business. "It makes the images come alive, and you can combine it with different colors and make it as artistic as you want." Users who own a Lumia PureView device can download the app at the source link below.
The PlayStation 4 has some awesome sharing abilities, where PS4 gamers can share screenshots and videos directly to Facebook. Unfortunately, this won't be done through a dedicated Facebook app on the PS4.
Facebook engineer, Colin Creitz, when talking with Polygon, explained why Facebook will rely on built-in browsers: "One of the things that came out of our experience with the previous generation of consoles is that we found that maintaining the native apps was a relatively high maintenance burden, and didn't really lead to a high fidelity experience."
Gamers can establish their real identity using their Facebook login, with Crietz explaining: "One way you can establish your real identity is by using your Facebook login," Crietz said. "It'll bring in your Facebook profile picture and you have the opportunity to manage whether people are looking at your PSN avatar or your Facebook profile picture, [which is displayed] on a per-other user basis."
Everyone's favorite six second video sharing app, Vine, has finally made its way onto Microsoft's Windows Phone. The Twitter-owned app was first released back in January of this year on iOS, and made its way to Android a few months later. Now those who subscribe to the Microsoft way of life will be able to create short videos as well.
Vine on Windows Phone will have all of the same functionality that the app does on Android and iOS as well as a few other features. Windows Phone users will have the ability to pin favorite accounts to the home screen, and pivot to flip through the apps quickly. Back in August, Vine announced that it had over 40 million users, and that number is expected to grow by several percent now that Lumia users around the globe have access to the service!
BlackBerry is pretty much a sunken battleship right now, waiting for the pirates to circle and collect all of its loot. But, is it the end? Not yet, especially not if BlackBerry 10's latest update on its way is any indication.
The next update to the BlackBerry OS would see it natively run the Google Play Store app, which would be quite the swing in a totally different direction. CrackBerry is posting images of a BlackBerry Z10 smartphone running Google Play, which is a nice touch. Remember: it's possible to side-load Android apps onto BB10-based devices, but it isn't simple.
If these images are a tease, then the world of BlackBerry could get a little better in the coming weeks.