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Pencil for Paper

FiftyThree, the U.S. startup that produces the designer-friendly drawing app Paper, has now brought out the accompanying Pencil stylus in Europe, 8 months after it was released in North America. Pencil connects with the user’s iPad via Bluetooth to enable features like palm rejection, finger blending and switching to the erase function without needing to change tools in the app. Variable surface pressure will be added with the upcoming release of iOS 8. In the U.K., the graphite version of Pencil is priced at £49.99 ($85.64) and the walnut version at £64.99 ($111.34).

In Brief

As expected, Verizon added LTE service for its Allset prepaid plans on Tuesday. Previously, Verizon’s prepaid customers were stuck with sluggish data from its CDMA network. Prices are staying the same as before: the base plan, which includes unlimited calls, texts, and 500MB of mobile data, costs $45 and you get the option to add 1GB and 3GB blocks of rollover data. LTE speeds will require an LTE-capable device, and you can either bring your own or purchase one from Verizon. If you’ve got an XLTE-capable device, you can take advantage of the added speeds from Verizon’s new LTE network as well.

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In Brief

Looking to get your hands on a Project Ara prototype? Google has opened up applications for its Ara developer’s program — but be warned, it won’t be easy to get one of the first modular phone prototypes available outside of Mountain View. According to an email sent on Monday to Ara developers informing them of the application page, Google will “prioritize requests based on technical experience and the strength of your module concept.” The first batch of dev boards, with three board options, will ship in late July. If you’d like to be in that group, you’ll need to get your application in by Wednesday. For non-developers, Google is aiming for a early 2015 commercial release.

 

 

In Brief

Photo by Mr. Vi/Thinkstock

Photo by Mr. Vi/Thinkstock

Kosta Grammatis, who believes broadband is a fundamental human right that should be available to everyone, has a new startup and business model. The startup, Oluvus, buys bandwidth from an undisclosed telco and then offers free mobile phone service to the U.S. The hope is that people will shell out for extra services and fund broadband services for other parts of the world. The model reminds me of Toms Shoes, where each purchased pair of shoes pays for a pair for a needy child. Whether or not Grammatis succeeds, the Wired article detailing his efforts and failures is worth a read.

In Brief

Star Trek LCARS Android Wear

That didn’t take too long: Star Trek fans with Android Wear smartwatches can already download and install a free watchface based on the fictional LCARS computer interface of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Daniele Bonaldo created and uploaded the “Starwatch” app to Google Play on Monday night, announcing the custom design on his Google+ page. The watch face displays the time, date and — just for kicks — the Unix Epoch, which is the total number of seconds (not counting leap seconds, of course!) since 0:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time on January 1, 1970.

In Brief

Samsung has suspended business with a supplier called Dongguan Shinyang Electronics, after China Labor Watch (CLW) exposed the apparent use of child labor in Shinyang’s factory (along with other labor violations including a lack of necessary safety equipment) four days ago. On Monday, Samsung said it had regularly audited the factory and found no cases of child labor, but an investigation following the CLW report showed “evidences of illegal hiring practices.” If the investigation concludes child labor was used, Samsung said it will scrap its contract with Shinyang. Chinese authorities are also examining the allegations, the manufacturer added.

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Got a Linux box at home or at work? Now you can access it remotely through the Chrome browser or from a Chrome OS device. On this week’s podcast, we discuss the new beta support for Linux in the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Read more »

In Brief

News that Chromecast now officially supports Android screen mirroring got a lot of people very excited this week — followed by disappointment by some who had to find out that their Android device isn’t officially supported yet. An unofficial, experimental hack just published on the XDA Developers Forum brings the functionality, which lets users beam anything happening on their phone or tablet screen to their Chromecast-equipped TV, to plenty of additional devices, including the Moto G, Moto X and the first-generation Nexus 7. However, devices have to be rooted in order to get this to work — and with anything of this nature, it’s not for the faint of heart.

In Brief

The Samsung Z, which will be the first smartphone to run Samsung’s homegrown Tizen operating system, has suffered another setback. The device was supposed to be launched first in Russia in conjunction, with a Tizen developer’s conference taking place in Moscow. However, no device has been launched, and Samsung told the Wall Street Journal that “the smartphone will appear on the Russian market later, when we can offer our users a [sic] fullest portfolio of applications.” Earlier this year, a device running Tizen was supposed be released in Japan, but the launch was canned after carriers pulled out.

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