New Google App “Inbox” Serves as Personal Gmail Assistant

Google’s Gmail team launched a new app called Inbox to help users manage their email. Inbox sorts your mail as an assistant might by categorizing incoming messages into Bundles. While this may not be a new concept, the Highlights feature is compelling. Highlights will pull the important information from a message and push it to the top (for example, flight times in a confirmation email from an airline). It even has the ability to update that information (think gate changes or delays). Continue reading New Google App “Inbox” Serves as Personal Gmail Assistant

Facebook Introduces Safety Check for Users During Disasters

Facebook recently announced Safety Check, an easy way to check on others when disasters strike. The service will first allow users to let others know they are safe during a disaster. It will also allow users to check in on others and mark friends as safe. Only friends will have access to these updates. The tool is designed for users to remain connected to those they care about. Safety Check will be available on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktops globally. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Safety Check for Users During Disasters

Google Play Adds Songza Playlists for its Music Subscribers

Subscribers to Google Play Music All Access will now be able to pick from activity-based Internet radio stations powered by Songza. Songza curates Internet radio offerings based on time of day and activities. Google acquired Songza back in July, but this is the first time it has integrated Songza’s offerings. The tech giant is playing catch-up in the Internet radio business to iHeartRadio, Slacker, Beats Music and Spotify, which already offer activity-based music playlists. Continue reading Google Play Adds Songza Playlists for its Music Subscribers

Microsoft Plans to Debut New Smartwatch in Next Few Weeks

Microsoft is joining Apple, Fitbit, musician will.i.am and others gearing up to offer new smartwatches. Microsoft’s wearable — a smartwatch that will track your heart rate, work across different mobile platforms, and run for more than two days of regular use before needing a charge — is expected to launch in the next few weeks. A name for the device or its retail cost is not yet known. Microsoft joins a growing field as the wearable tech market is forecasted to be worth $7.1 billion as early as next year. Continue reading Microsoft Plans to Debut New Smartwatch in Next Few Weeks

Twitter Launches Money Transfers and Access to Music Tracks

One of France’s largest banks, Group BPCE, is teaming up with Twitter to let their customers transfer money to friends or charities via tweets. Payments will be managed by the bank’s S-Money service that allows transfers via text messages and uses credit-card security standards. Twitter users can also now listen to select iTunes and SoundCloud tracks via a new audio feature launched last week. Users can listen to music while reading tweets, and even buy tracks directly from the iTunes store. Continue reading Twitter Launches Money Transfers and Access to Music Tracks

Warner Music Group Buys Music Curation Startup Playlists.net

Warner Music Group’s artist and label services company WEA has acquired U.K.-based startup Playlists.net. The startup, which allows users to share, upload, and discover Spotify playlists, will still operate as a standalone company. Because the music charts in the U.K. now take streaming music into account, WEA could use Playlists.net’s platform to promote playlists with their artists or track data that could help predict up-and-coming artists or trends in music. Continue reading Warner Music Group Buys Music Curation Startup Playlists.net

Will.i.am Unveils New Smartwatch with Streaming Music Service

Musician and tech entrepreneur will.i.am has introduced the PULS smartwatch in order to fill what he perceives as a void in a wearable market that does not adequately take fashion into account. At Dreamforce 2014, he presented PULS as a wearable that does not need to be tethered to a phone since it has its own SIM card. The device looks more like a cuff, and has speakers and a touchscreen display. PULS connects via Wi-Fi and has carrier partners for 3G — AT&T in the U.S. and O2 in the U.K.  Continue reading Will.i.am Unveils New Smartwatch with Streaming Music Service

Reddit Acquires Alien Blue, Now the Official Reddit Mobile App

Before Wednesday, social media startup Reddit, which has 174 million regular monthly users, did not offer a mobile app. Instead, the online message board worked with a variety of third-party, unofficial programs. However, in the wake of a large round of venture funding, Reddit announced that it has purchased the most popular of these third-party programs, Alien Blue. The app will now become the official Reddit app, available for download via Apple’s App Store. Continue reading Reddit Acquires Alien Blue, Now the Official Reddit Mobile App

New PlayStation TV Provides Gameplay and Streaming Media

Sony’s much-anticipated PlayStation TV went on sale this week for $100 MSRP — or $140 packaged with a DualShock 3 gamepad controller, 8GB memory card, and “The Lego Movie Videogame.” The mini console, which essentially provides a Vita experience on a big screen, connects to a TV or PC via HDMI and allows users to access games and streaming services. “It is essentially a modern version of Nintendo’s GameBoy Player mashed up with all the capabilities of an Amazon Fire TV,” suggests VentureBeat. Continue reading New PlayStation TV Provides Gameplay and Streaming Media

SGN Releases Mobile Game for Fox’s New ‘Book of Life’ Movie

Mobile game maker SGN and 20th Century Fox released “Book of Life: Sugar Smash,” a companion mobile game for Fox’s new animated film. The two companies are sharing revenue from the game’s in-app purchases, which could translate to long-term revenue and marketing for both businesses. This revenue-sharing deal could also become a new model of partnership for future gaming and film companies. “Book of Life: Sugar Smash” is a free game available for iOS and soon Android. Continue reading SGN Releases Mobile Game for Fox’s New ‘Book of Life’ Movie

Zeiss Builds a $100 VR Headset That Works with Your Phone

German company Zeiss, known for its optics tech and premium camera lenses, is developing the VR One, a headset that uses a smartphone’s display, accelerometer, and gyroscope to give users a virtual reality experience. It is similar to Samsung’s Gear VR for the Galaxy Note 4 except the VR One is $100 cheaper and is an open project so that developers can help design the product. Currently, the VR One is compatible with the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5, but more phone tray options are coming soon. Continue reading Zeiss Builds a $100 VR Headset That Works with Your Phone

Micro-Content: Cartoon Network Unveils Mobile App for Kids

Turner’s Cartoon Network launched an app last week that features 10- to 15-second clips of the cable channel’s animated shows. “Cartoon Network Anything” is targeting boys 6- to 11-years old, many of whom are shifting towards mobile media consumption. Cartoon Network designed the app to drive young viewers back to the TV with promotions for on-air properties in between the 15-second clips, games, polls, quizzes, trivia, and puzzles. The free app is available for iOS and Android. Continue reading Micro-Content: Cartoon Network Unveils Mobile App for Kids

Google Plans to Unveil Phablet and New Version of Android

Google’s new smartphone, expected to launch later this month, will be larger than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note. The high-resolution display is 5.9 inches diagonally, making it large enough to be categorized as a phablet. The handset, code-named Shamu, intends to compete in an emerging market of increasingly popular hybrid devices across the U.S. and abroad. Google also reportedly plans to debut a new version of its Android mobile OS at the same time. Continue reading Google Plans to Unveil Phablet and New Version of Android

Third Party Site May Have Stored 200,000 Snapchat Images

Members of anonymous online messaging forum 4chan claim to have access to as many as 200,000 Snapchat photos through a third-party app called Snapsaved. The smartphone tool allows creators to store photos from their Snapchat accounts. Anonymous members have said that a link will be posted, allowing users to download the photos. It is not clear who created Snapsaved, and the app’s site is no longer working. Meanwhile, Snapchat claims that its servers have not been compromised.

Continue reading Third Party Site May Have Stored 200,000 Snapchat Images

Chinese Tech Firm Makes Major Investment in TV Remote App

E-commerce giant Alibaba is taking another significant step beyond its core business by investing $50 million in Mountain View-based startup Peel, which makes apps that allow consumers to use their smartphones and tablets to control their TVs. The Android version works with TVs, cable boxes and streaming video boxes, while the iOS version can replace the remote for Dish and DirecTV boxes. Peel’s Android version also comes preloaded on some HTC and Samsung mobile devices. Continue reading Chinese Tech Firm Makes Major Investment in TV Remote App

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