Stories for Aug. 12, 2014

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In Brief

photo: Android Police

You won’t see mention of it in the release notes, but the latest version of Google+ for Android now has a Chromecast button. Android Police spotted the Chromecast icon and says you can cast a main Google+ stream to a television over Wi-Fi using Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle. Using your Android phone or tablet, you can scroll through your feed — just the “Everything” feed at the moment — or let the app automatically scroll as new content becomes available. We’ve seen situations in the past where the Chromecast icon appeared and disappeared, so it’s possible Google is just testing the feature for now.

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In Brief

Yandex on Jolla

Finnish handset maker Jolla has begun offering its Sailfish OS-based smartphone in Hong Kong through the carrier 3. This is the first notable Asian channel for Jolla — when the merry band of ex-Nokians were first developing their Meego-derived platform, they were set to have a huge distribution deal through Chinese retailer D.Phone, but that didn’t pan out. Jolla handsets, which can run Android as well as Sailfish apps, will also soon be on offer through Indian retailer Snapdeal. According to recent reports, Jolla is looking to hire former Nokia employees recently laid off by Microsoft, to support its international expansion.

Gigaom Research


New features included in Hadoop’s latest releases go some way towards freeing an increasingly capable data platform from the constraints of its early dependence on one specific technical approach: MapReduce. Read more at Gigaom Research »

Stories for Aug. 11, 2014
In Brief

If you thought some of Uber’s previous competitive tricks against Lyft were shady — like its “shave the ‘stache” campaign or its $500 bonus to drivers who switch from Lyft to Uber — wait until you get a hold of the latest. Uber employees across the country have ordered and cancelled 5,560 Lyft rides in the last ten months, according to a CNN story. The number comes from Lyft itself, which matched cancellation data with the phone numbers of “known” Uber recruiters. There is no evidence that Uber’s corporate HQ knew some of its employees were doing this, but it echoes a similar scandal it faced in January when Uber employees ordered and cancelled 100 rides with one of its competitors in New York — Gett.

In Brief

T-Mobile announced on Monday it is making changes to its prepaid Pay As You Go plans, simplifying the billing rate as well as adding an option to add limited-time LTE data passes. Previously, prepaid minute purchases at T-Mobile were tiered: If you bought 30 prepaid minutes, it would cost $10. Compare that to 1000 minutes for $100 — those are two very different per-minute rates. Starting August 17, after a $3 monthly minimum charge that includes 30 minutes, a single minute or text message costs $.10. If you’d like data, $5 gets you a one-day pass with 500MB. There’s a $10 option for a seven-day pass with 1GB of LTE-eligible data as well.

In Brief

photo: Microsoft

Since Microsoft bought Nokia’s hardware division, the company is in the non-smartphone market whether it likes it or not. To that end, Microsoft announced the Nokia 130 on Monday: A basic €19 ($25.43 US) handset aimed at music listeners and video watchers. The candybar styled handset runs Nokia OS and can pump out tunes for a whopping 46 hours on a single charge; there’s definitely a battery life benefit to not running a complex mobile OS or having to power a multitude of sensors. As you’d expect at this price, hardware is minimal: You’ll be watching videos on a 1.8” color screen, for example.

In Brief

It’s kind of trendy for retailers to start accepting bitcoin. Services like Coinbase are making it easier for them to do so, and it provides good publicity, as the cryptocurrency remains outside the mainstream. But that’s not to say it’s just a stunt – Dell opened up to bitcoin payments last month, and over the weekend founder Michael Dell tweeted that someone had put in a server order for 85 bitcoin, or around $50,000. Not bad for physical servers (renting the virtual kind with bitcoin is old hat). Retailer Overstock said in March that it had taken $1 million in bitcoin payments in just two months.

Stories for Aug. 10, 2014
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