• Microsoft Rebrands SkyDive to OneDrive and Launches New Android app

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    Microsoft has rebranded their SkyDrive product to OneDrive. Microsoft’s Dropbox and Google Drive competitor has not been as popular as its rivals, however due to it’s tight integration in Windows, Windows Phone and Microsoft Office, it is gaining popularity. In addition to the rebrand OneDrive is adding referral bonuses. If you refer a friend to OneDrive you receive an additional 500 MB per referral up to 5 GB. You also get an additional 3 GB if you enable the automatic photo upload features in the iOS, Android, or Windows Phone apps. The new Android app with automatic photo uploads in available on the Play Store starting today.

    So in addition to the free 7 GB (larger than the free amount given by either Drive or Dropbox) Microsoft will offer up to an additional 8 GB. Microsoft is also rolling out payment plans staring at $25 per year for an additional 50 GB.

  • Square Cash Adds Feature for Requesting Money

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    Square, the company that made itself known for making credit card payments hassle free on mobile phones, has been branching out into new territory with Square Cash. Square Cash allows anyone to send money using nothing other than email. To send money to a friend, you can send an email to the friend with the amount in the subject line and CC [email protected] The first time this happens, the sender gets a reply with a link to a encrypted web page asking for a credit card number, the receiver gets an encrypted page asking for a debit card number or banking info. After the first time the information is entered, the users are never asked again. Money is transferred directly between the two accounts. There is no fee and there is no intermediate account unlike PayPal and Google Wallet.

    This week, Square added the ability to request money in the same way. Now emailing a friend and CCing [email protected] sends a request for money. Emailing a mailing list will request the money and keep track of who has paid and who hasn’t. Between Square Cash and Square Wallet, Square is taking aim at one of the last places where traditional cash is used, the consumer wallet.

  • Facebook Creative Labs Releases New Paper App

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    This week, Facebook Creative Labs announced a new Facebook experience for iPhones called Paper. It is now available on the App Store. Paper is “a new app that helps you explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.”

    The default data source for Paper is your news feed, however you can customize the app to also include stories about various topics that interest you. This appears to be similar to how following topics works in Pinterest. Paper places a focus on photos to show off stories, and Facebook is touting its new fullscreen design and auto fullscreen playing of videos. Paper also allows previews of how your posts, known as “stories” will look before you post them.

    This app was released for iPhones a few days after its announcement. No word on whether this will be coming to iPads or Android.

     

  • New Release of Lightworks Video Editing Suite for Windows and Linux

    lightworksLightworks has been progressing quickly in the creation of their cross-platform, open source, professional video editor. Lightworks began a few years ago in moving their video editing software to open source and making it available to Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. The Windows and Linux versions have been available as beta products for a while now. The Mac version is allegedly on an internal alpha and is listed on the Lightworks site as being available soon.

    This week Lightworks released version 11.5. This was a relatively minor release that nevertheless had some major changes. The main change is the an option for an outright purchase. Until now, Lightworks has offered their software for free and charged a subscription fee to utilize professional codecs. Now the free version includes editing support for all codecs, but limits exporting to 720p in H.264 (a common combination for web video, but not usually good enough for Blu-Ray or broadcast television). The pro version supports many more codecs for exporting. The subscription prices are now $79.99 per year or $7.99 per month. There is also a new one time purchase option for $279.99.

  • Netflix Makes Automatically Playing the Next Episode Optional

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    Netflix made binge watching TV easier than ever when they begin automatically playing the next episode in a TV series. While many enjoyed this feature, it apparently annoyed enough users for Netflix to make turning off the feature an option in Account Settings. The interface after the episode ends still remains the same, making it easy to progress to the next episode if desired, but will not automatically progress. The default setting still reamins set to automatically play the next episode.

  • Incipio Unveils Cashwrap Case for Mobile Payments on iPhone

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    Incipio, the company behind several battery extending cases for iPhones, has just thrown a new product into this mix. Incipio has announced an ISIS compatible case for the iPhone – the Cashwrap. ISIS is the new wireless payment system developed by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint to compete with Google Wallet. Until now, ISIS has been only available in certain areas on some more obscure devices. Apple has made no announcements regarding ISIS one way or the other, however it depends on NFC technology which Apple has so far refrained from including in their devices. Most current Android devices come with NFC, however are being used for Google Wallet and Android Beam and not ISIS.

    It looks, with this addition, that the ISIS coalition is ready to move closer to the big time.

  • Pebble Announces the Pebble Steel

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    Pebble was one of the first companies to enter the smartwatch space successfully. Demoing their initial creation at last year’s CES conference, Pebble showed off a smartwatch with a five day battery, that would show notification from Android and iPhone devices. It offered multiple watch faces as well as remote music control for the paired phone.

    It was an excellent device that did a good job of fulfilling expectations, however a common comment was that the device looked plain and that the wristband it came with was a mediocre plastic. While these comments did not seem to detract from purchases, Pebble apparently took them to heart.

    At this year’s CES, Pebble unveiled the Pebble Steel. The Pebble Steel is the same technology in a beautiful case. This version of the watch (as you might guess) is made from stainless steel, and the screen is covered in the scratch resistant Gorilla Glass. It comes with a steel or leather wristband.

    The new Pebble Steel is priced at $249 and is scheduled to begin shipping in February.

  • Google Adds New Chromecast Apps – Including Plex

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    In time for the holidays, Google has added several new apps to their Chromecast device. They have added ten new apps including  VEVO, Red Bull.TV, Songza, PostTV, Viki, Revision 3, and BeyondPod.

    Also added were three apps designed to allow you to play your own media via Chromecast – Plex, Avia, and RealPlayer Cloud. Perhaps the most significant of these is Plex. Plex’s software allows you to host your media on your own computer and stream to other computer, mobile devices, set top boxes – and now the $35 Chromecast. Plex has recently been surging in popularity and the addition of Chromecast streaming can only help their popularity.

    Google and app developers continue to add apps to the Chromecast, and they keep their list of supported apps available on their website.

  • Google Releases Android 4.4 KitKat

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    In tandem with the Nexus 5, Google released Android 4.4 “KitKat.” KitKat now has the same voice launch seen in the Moto X where saying “Ok Google” at any screen launches Google Now and waits for a command. KitKat also has a much smaller memory footprint allowing it to be the Android version of choice for less powerful phones. This will hopefully replace the power-sipping, but aging 2.3 Gingerbread, which has long been the standard for lower end smartphones.

    KitKat also provides an official API for other apps to take over text messaging for the phone. This has been done before, but it was typically done using unofficial methods by the app developer, often leading to a less that stellar experience. Now app developers can easily integrate this feature. Google is using this to promote is improved Hangouts SMS functions, but will likely be taken advantage of by SMS replacement apps such as Handcent.

    The new KitKat will be on the Nexus 5 at launch and will be rolling out to other Nexus devices and Play Edition devices in “the coming weeks.”

  • Google Releases the Nexus 5

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    Google has unveiled the latest addition to their flagship Nexus line  of devices – the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 is an LG manufactured device toting a 5″ screen, 2GB of RAM, and a 2.3GHz Snapdragon CPU.

    It has up to 7 hours of active LTE usage while on battery and 300 hours of battery standby time. It also supports WiFi a/b/g/n/ac. The device is available on the Play Store now starting at $349 for the 16GB black and white versions. It will be coming to retailers and to Sprint soon.

    The Nexus 5 will also be the first to feature Google’s new Android 4.4 “KitKat” which has an improved Dialer app, increased battery life, and the ability to set Google Hangouts as the default messaging app for SMS.