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ScratchJr project from Tufts, MIT
photo: Amanda Strawhacker, Dylan Portelance/Tufts University

ScratchJr is a programming language customized to help very young kids build interactive games and storage. Now a new iPad app brings it to that audience. Read more »

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In Brief

In emerging markets, smartphones are gaining ground based on crazily low pricing. Check out this Gadget piece about recent figures from South African retail giant Pep. In the second half of 2013, 1 percent of the pre-pay phones Pep sold were smartphones. That was up to 13 percent in the first half of this year, and soon it will be 30 percent. Much of this is down to the arrival of super-cheap, WhatsApp-centric Android phones priced as low as R399 ($38). Now consider that Microsoft just killed off Asha, the low-end Nokia line that’s been its big contender in markets such as this. Those cheap new Lumias had better be really cheap.

In Brief

Peggy JohnsonQualcomm EVP Peggy Johnson is leaving the company that’s been her home for 24 years, a source tells Gigaom. And according to a report in Re/Code, she’s departing for Microsoft to take on a high-level executive post. Johnson is the highest ranking female executive at Qualcomm, and she’s also part of the inner circle. She’s on Qualcomm’s executive committee and has headed up key divisions of the company. As President of Qualcomm Internet Services, she launched BREW, a predecessor of the moden mobile app store. In her current role she’s in charge of developing new markets for Qualcomm’s core wireless technologies as well as overseeing Qualcomm Labs.

In Brief

LoopPay’s digital credit card has attracted the attention of credit card titan Visa, which may be just be looking for alternatives to plastic. LoopPay said on Thursday that Visa has made a strategic investment in the company of an undisclosed sum. LoopPay makes programmable keychain fobs and iPhone sleeves capable of generating a magnetic field that emulates the magnetic stripe on a credit or debit card. And point-of-sale terminal that can read it. GE’s financial arm has also made an investment in Loop, and last year the Boston startup raised at $10 million Series A round.

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