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Two-year contracts to be abandoned by AT&T next month


The days of two-year contracts being the standard procedure for customers buying phones are numbered. Like T-Mobile already has, AT&T is expected to abandon two-year contracts.

On June 1, the carrier is expected to leave behind two-year contracts in favor of its AT&T Next program. AT&T Next allows customers to pay for their phones over the course of twelve, eighteen, or twenty-four months. The carrier believes that simplifying the purchase options is what customers want and their Mobile Share Value plans work perfectly with AT&T Next.

Both local dealers and national retail stores will follow the new protocol; however, local dealers, customer service, and AT&T’s website are all able to follow through with two-year contracts. It will just take a few days to receive the device in the mail.

Products offered by AT&T that are not phones will still be available with two-year contracts.

Source: Droid Life

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Tweets now appear in Google Search results on mobile


Results when using Google Search are going to look a little different starting today. Google has worked with Twitter to bring tweets to the search engine’s results on mobile devices. Most searches will have tweets appear organically, but users can force them to appear by attaching “twitter” to entries. Tweets come from both official accounts and users discussing the searched topic.

Google plans to bring support to desktop and additional languages over time.

Source: Google

Come comment on this article: Tweets now appear in Google Search results on mobile


Xiaomi launches its Mi Store in the U.S. and select European countries


Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi has brought its online store to four new countries. The Mi Store, as it stands today, offers a limited selection of products to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The company aggressively priced its products with a power bank starting at $9 and premium headphones going for $79. People have apparently noticed the value because all of the products listed are out of stock at the moment.

The following are the products listed in the Mi Store:

It could be only a matter of time before we see actual phones and/or tablets arrive in the Mi Store for customers in these countries.

Click here to register for a Mi Account.

[Mi Store]

Come comment on this article: Xiaomi launches its Mi Store in the U.S. and select European countries


Instagram’s popular Layout collage app now available on Android

Layout from Instagram aa 2

Layout, the popular photo collage making application from Instagram, has finally made its way to the Google Play Store after a brief time as an iOS exclusive. A big portion of Instagram users already post photo collages to the social networking platform pretty regularly, so this should be welcomed by many fans of the app.

Layout is pretty simple to use. Once you open the app, you can select up to nine photos to use for each collage from your phone’s gallery. If you don’t see a photo you want to use, you can take a photo from the app using your front-facing camera through the new Photo Booth feature. After your photos have been selected, you can then choose which layout fits your needs by scrolling through a few different options on the top of the screen. After your layout is chosen, you can edit the sizes of individual photos, mirror or flip images, or swap images if you need to.

margin: auto;

#gallery-1 .gallery-item
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 25%;

#gallery-1 img
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;

#gallery-1 .gallery-caption
margin-left: 0;

/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

In addition to the new Layout app, Instagram itself is getting a new feature in an update rolling out today. The feature is called Structure, a new creative tool that helps to enhance details and textures. If you’d like to check for your Instagram update, head on over to this link.

If you’re a fan of Instagram, odds are Layout will be a nice addition to your long list of installed applications. Head to the Play Store link below to download Layout for free.

Get it on Google Play


Google will now show real-time tweets in Google Search results on mobile

Tweets in Google aa

Google is now making it a little easier for users to get real-time information through their smartphones. Starting today, Google will begin showing you relevant tweets in Google Search results on your mobile phone or tablet about the topic in which you’re interested. For example, if you’re interested in seeing what Taylor Swift is up to at the moment (and who isn’t?), simply perform a Google Search with her name, and her most recent tweets will show up in the results feed.

Additionally, if you were to search for Malcolm X (since today is his birthday), Google will show you tweets from folks around the world who are currently tweeting about him.

Google is gradually rolling this feature out in English in the Google app on both Android and iOS and on mobile browsers. The company is working on adding support for more languages and bringing it to the desktop, so stay tuned for more information in the future.


PayPal will refund $15 million to customers if the CFPB has its way

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleges that PayPal engaged in unfair, abusive and deceptive practices in the marketing and management of its PayPal Credit service, formerly known as Bill Me Later. To rectify the (many) outlined abuses, the CFPB filed a complaint and proposed consent order that directs PayPal to refund $15 million to affected consumers, plus pay a $10 million fine to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. The proposed consent order isn’t an official ruling just yet — a judge with the US District Court for the District of Maryland must approve the order for it to be enforced.

“The CFPB alleges that many consumers who were attempting to enroll in a regular PayPal account, or make an online purchase, were signed up for a credit product without realizing it,” the bureau writes. “The company also failed to post payments properly, lost payment checks, and mishandled billing disputes that consumers had with merchants or the company. Tens of thousands of consumers experienced these issues.”

Specifically, the CFPB claims that PayPal deceptively advertised promotions, abusively charged deferred interest, enrolled people in PayPal Credit without their knowledge or consent, forced customers to use PayPal Credit, engaged in illegal billing practices and mishandled disputes. The CFPB has the authority to take action against companies engaging in unfair and abusive business practices under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The “affected consumers” in this case are, generally, “any consumer identified by the Bureau and Defendants who paid late fees or interest charges between January 1st, 2011, and May 1st, 2015,” the proposed consent order reads.

PayPal recently agreed to pay the US Department of Treasury $7.7 million after processing payments for numerous individuals and companies on the US sanctions list.

For an in-depth look at the CFPB’s allegations against PayPal Credit, see the full complaint (PDF) and proposed consent order (PDF).

Filed under: Misc, Internet


Source: CFPB


Apogee’s tiny USB headphone amp is now available for $295

When it was announced back in January, Apogee promised to deliver its Groove USB headphone amp and digital-to-analong converter (DAC) this spring. Well, the company kept its word as the audio accessory is now available for $295. What does a few hundred dollars buy you? Groove touts up to 24 bit/192kHz audio thanks to a Quad Sum DAC that puts four converters on each channel to keep the audio sounding top notch. There’s also a feature called Constant Current Drive that adapts to the frequencies of your headphones to make them sound better. On the front of the aluminum frame, volume controls and LEDs easily handle level changes and muting. What’s more, the add-on is USB powered, so you won’t have to futz with another cable or batteries — just think of it a set of super-sized (and super powerful) in-line controls. The folks at Apogee have a knack for building stellar audio gear, so we’re anxious to see how this gadget stacks up.

Filed under: Portable Audio/Video


Source: Apogee


LG’s super-thin OLED screen sticks to your wall using magnets

LG Display's OLED clinging to the wall through magnets

Forget buying a clunky wall mount for your TV… what if you could stick it up like a fridge magnet? LG Display is hoping you’ll do just that. The company has unveiled a 55-inch OLED screen that’s so thin and light (0.04 inches and 4.2 pounds) that you can put it on your wall using a magnetic mat. The design doesn’t exactly leave room for much else — you’d probably need a breakout box for TV functions — but it raises the possibility of big-screen sets that easily blend into your living room’s decor. Unfortunately, LG isn’t saying if or when this panel will translate into a real product. You’ll most likely have to settle for the company’s more conventional OLED TVs in the short term, including a giant 99-incher due this year.

Filed under: Displays, Home Entertainment, HD, LG


Via: OLED-info

Source: Yonhap News Agency


Spotify’s deal with Sony reveals the high costs of streaming music

Wyclef Jean performs at a Spotify concert for SXSW

Labels and streaming music services have spent ages bickering over payments for streaming music, but it’s never really been clear who was getting the short end of the stick… besides the artists, that is. We may have a better sense of things now that The Verge has leaked details of Sony Music Entertainment’s 2011 contract with Spotify, however. The two-year licensing deal asked Spotify to pay Sony a total of $42.5 million in yearly advances, and a “Most Favored Nation” clause meant that Sony would always get advance rates as good as any competing label. None of this cash is likely to have reached the musicians themselves, though — sources say that advances typically go straight to the record company.

Sony’s take from the songs was more complex. It got a revenue share that was dependent on its overall percentage of streams, but it also got a per-stream cut that depended on whether or not the royalties from free or paid users would be higher than the revenue share. Moreover, it got up to $9 million in heavily discounted ad placements that it could sell if it wanted.

As for Spotify’s income? That’s less than clear. Spotify has long made it clear that it takes 30 percent of the gross revenue total, but the contract adds that could take up to 15 percent of the ad revenues from hired third parties. How much it made from that would depend greatly on how many outsiders are involve, and how much of that 15 percent really goes to Spotify. The company still isn’t turning a profit, so its cut clearly isn’t that big.

The real mystery surrounds the payout to artists, which are more up to their individual contracts with Sony than Spotify. Some of their agreements were likely written before streaming was a big deal, shortchanging them compared to up-and-coming stars. With that said, the leak shows that the finger-pointing at Spotify’s low per-play royalties (just $0.00225 for each stream) might be excessive — artists could well be stiffed by labels more interested in up-front cash than rewarding their talent.

[Image credit: Alli Harvey/Getty Images for Spotify]

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Internet, HD, Sony


Source: The Verge


Refurbished iPad Air 2 Models Now Available From Apple Store

Apple today added several iPad Air 2 models to its online store for refurbished products, marking the first time refurbished versions of the iPad Air 2 have been made available for purchase.

Released in October of 2014, the iPad Air 2 features a slimmer body than the original iPad Air, plus a triple-core A8X processor, an 8-megapixel camera Touch ID, and a gapless display with an anti-reflective screen coating.

Apple is currently offering several refurbished iPad Air 2 models, ranging from the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 to the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air 2. All models are discounted by 15 to 17 percent, dropping prices by $80 to $160. For the entry-level Wi-Fi only 16GB model, the discount lowers the price to $419 from the original $499 price tag.

That price point beats many sale prices from third-party vendors, and as with all of Apple’s refurbished products, the iPad Air 2 models come with a full 1-year warranty, a new battery, and a new outer shell.

Apple’s refurbished inventory fluctuates on a regular basis based on available supply, so models that are available today may not be available tomorrow. The refurbished iPad Air 2 models can be purchased immediately from the online store.

(Thanks, Phil!)

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