Stories for Jul. 16, 2014

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In Brief

Tado, the European Nest competitor, has taken $13.6 million in fresh investment from Target Partners, Shortcut Ventures – both of which have already invested — and others. According to CEO Christian Deilmann, the home climate control firm will use the money to expand to all major European countries and beyond. Currently, the Tado smart thermostat is available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the U.K., while the more recently launched Tado Cooling box, which connects legacy air-conditioning units to the firm’s app, is already a worldwide proposition.

In Brief

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).

Stories for Jul. 15, 2014
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.

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

British democracy

The UK Data Retention and Investigation Powers (DRIP) Bill, which is being fast-tracked through the legislative process, cleared the first stage in the House of Commons by 498 votes to 31 after a sparsely-attended “debate” (pictured). As previously reported, DRIP expands the authorities’ surveillance powers so that foreign web communications service providers can be forced to hand over user information – despite the assurances of the U.K. government that it only maintains the “status quo”. Lawyers and web law experts (and Edward Snowden) strongly oppose it. DRIP, which all major parties agreed to support before the public got to see it late last week, now goes for a second reading in the evening, then the House of Lords on Wednesday.

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