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“Facebook Reader” Is Real, But It’s Not RSS Or A Google Reader Wannabe

TechCrunch

Facebook is working on a fresh way to read news, a source tells TechCrunch. It’s not based on RSS, and Facebook isn’t rushing the launch of a product that could compete with Flipboard. That’s because news reading is a high-stakes, long-term project that could get us to invest even more time in the social network.

Since our source brought us that info last week, the WSJ ran a story saying that Facebook is working on a product, code-named Reader, but had few details about how the product worked. It compared Reader to Flipboard because it supposedly aggregates news and presents it in a tablet- and smartphone-friendly format.

The report matches up with a post we published a little over a week ago, when we predicted that Facebook would soon be launching a reader product. We were wrong about the launch date, but can now confirm Facebook has indeed…

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Google Launches Google+ Photos App For Chromebook Pixel, Coming Soon To Other Chrome OS Devices

TechCrunch

Google has launched a Google+ photos app for the Chromebook Pixel, something it actually previewed way back at the Pixel launch, and screens showed up in February, but it has taken until now to get the Google+ to wide release. The app plugs into your Google+ account, and will automatically upload photos on any SD card plugged into the device back to your Drive account, in either full resolution (with a limited cap) or Google’s standard 2048px wide format (unlimited) depending on what the user chooses.

The app offers a very nice browsing experience, augmented by the Pixel’s super high resolution display, and touchscreen interface for paging through images. The image viewer shows you a preview, with rotation controls, easy access to sharing and album creation features, and metadata along the right including maps, tags, dimensions and camera data. Offline mode allows for viewing recently uploaded photos, which are automatically cached, and…

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Microsoft Partners With Deem To Expand Its Ad Inventory With More Local Offers And Deals

TechCrunch

Microsoft and e-commerce platform Deem, which is still better known under its previous name of Rearden Commerce, have inked a partnership that will allow Microsoft to distribute Deem’s large inventory of local deals on its properties.

While you probably haven’t heard of Deem or Rearden, the company is currently valued at $1 billion and has received over $340 million in VC capital and investments since it was founded 13 years ago. Microsoft will feature Deem deals and offers from its network of more than 1.2 million merchants on properties like Bing, Outlook.com and MSN, as well as in Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps.

As Deem’s founder and CEO Patrick Grady told me, his company takes a very different approach to offers and deals than Groupon, Livingsocial and similar companies in this space. Deem sees itself more as being in the business of “syndicated commerce” and puts an emphasis…

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Firefox 22 Launches With Built-In Asm.js And WebRTC Support

TechCrunch

Mozilla today launchedFirefox 22, the first stable version of the popular browser that supports the WebRTC protocol and includes support for the organization’s asm.js JavaScript subset that offers near-native performance for web apps.

For the most part, browser releases have now become routine, especially since all the major vendors – with the exception of Microsoft – have switched to a rapid-release schedule. Both WebRTC and asm.js, however, have the potential to change how developers create web apps, so even if you usually ignore Firefox releases, this one is definitely worth a look.

Built-In WebRTC Support

Children_callWebRTC allows developers to create web apps with built-in video and audio calls, as well as file sharing without the need for any plugins or third-party software. A number of companies, including Tokbox  for example, are already betting big on WebRTC. Until now, however, only Google’s Chrome supported the budding standard in…

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European Publishers, Others Slam Google On “Abusive” Practices, Ask EC To Reject Google Proposal

TechCrunch

It may be back to the drawing board for Google on the European antitrust front: hundreds of publishers and publishing trade associations today are coming out in force to ask the European Commission and its Vice President Joaquín Almunia to “reject outright” Google’s draft remedies, which Google submitted to the EC as its offer for rebalancing competition in search and other online products where it is dominant in the region. The statement put out today, by the European Publishers’ Council, comes on the same day that other would-be Google competitors, including online mapping and travel companies, as well as the Microsoft-backed Fairsearch consortium, are also expected to call for much deeper scrutiny of Google and a rejection of its proposals.

Google originally published its draft remedies on April 25, which included suggestions for how it would offer competitors some concessions such as labelling Google’s own links more clearly (a…

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Android-First Mobile Messenger Invi Raises $3 Million For Its SMS Replacement App

TechCrunch

Invi, a mobile messaging app for Android which lets users search for and share photos, YouTube videos and more, is today announcing $3 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary’s A-Grade Investments, Alpha Investment, UpWest Labs, and Silicon Valley angels from Google, Nokia, Yahoo, Groupon, Spotify, SRI, Cisco, Chegg and others.

The new funding comes on the heels of an earlier $750,000 round from Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, Atlantic Bridge, and various angels announced back in November. This $3 million round includes that previous raise.

“Messaging hasn’t been evolved much,” explains invi co-founder Iddo Tal of his company’s inspiration. Even though users are now sending out dozens if not hundreds of texts per day, the majority of those communications still take place over SMS.

Co-founder Lior Gonnen says that the idea with invi is to integrate every app on a user’s phone into…

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Sony Supersizes Its Xperia Smartphone Line With 6.4″ Full HD Xperia Z Ultra Phablet

TechCrunch

It was only a matter of time before Sony jumped on the phablet bandwagon. And that day is today. The mobile maker has just announced the Xperia Z Ultra: a frankly gigantic addition to its smartphone line-up that packs a 6.4″ full HD display. This phone is so big that one of the accessories Sony is lining up is a slender Bluetooth handset for taking calls — i.e.so you can leave the whopping slab on the table.

Sony is following in the footsteps of Samsung, with its Galaxy Note devices but obviously it didn’t say that. Pierre Perron, president of Sony Mobile Comms for NW Europe, said the mobile industry has  seen “increasing consumer demand for larger screens”, adding: “The big screen segment is one of the fastest growing segments.”

The LTE/4G Xperia Z Ultra slots into Sony’s line-up between its Xperia Z high end smartphone, announced earlier this year at CES…

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, 8.0 and 7.0 Coming To The U.S. July 7 For $399, $299 And $199

TechCrunch

Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 3 line has been official for a little while now, but U.S. availability and pricing was up in the air until today. The relatively cheap tablets are going to be $199, $299 and $399 for the Galaxy Tab 7.0, 8.0 and 10.1, respectively, and will be available from retailers including Best Buy, Fry’s and Amazon beginning on July 7, with pre-orders starting tomorrow, June 25.

For those who aren’t familiar with these devices yet, the Tab 3 line comes in three size options, the 7.0 with a 7-inch 1024×600 display, the 8.0 with an 8-inch 12800×800 screen, and the 10.1 with a 10-inch 1280×800 display. Both the Tab 8.0 and the 10.1 get Android 4.2 and beefier processors, while the 7.0 runs Android 4.1 and has half the onboard storage with 8GB (though all are expandable via microSD).

The full stats of each device are available…

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Apple Releases iOS 7 Beta For iPad And iPad Mini With New Update, Brings Voice Memos Back

TechCrunch

Apple has released a new beta of its iOS 7 software for developers today, and the big news is that the iPad version has arrived. Back when Apple announced iOS 7, it said the tablet version would follow the iPhone version a few weeks later, and they’ve stayed good to that promise. The iPad version support is available from the developer channel for those registered as iOS devs.

The other change that we’re seeing reported by users of the new beta is the return of Voice Memos to iOS. This was left out of the first beta, but reports said Apple just didn’t have it ready for inclusion in that version, so it’s no surprise to see it return here. The interface and icon are completely redesigned, as one might expect, getting rid of the skeumorphic rendition of a mic that dominated the previous version, and flattening out controls and…

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Hacker Scrapes Thousands Of Public Phone Numbers Using Facebook Graph Search

TechCrunch

A hacker has exploited Facebook’s Graph Search to collect a database of thousands of phone numbers and Facebook users. Both parties agree that all the information was left public by users (even if the users themselves may still not realize it). But Facebook issued him a cease and desist after the hacker continued to scrape data and argued with Facebook that the availability of the information invades users’ privacy.

Brandon Copley, a mobile developer in Dallas, Texas, searched and downloaded 2.5 million entries of phone numbers from the social network. He says many of these entries are empty, as they either aren’t active numbers or aren’t connected to a Facebook user with public settings; however, he notes that thousands of entries do match a phone number with the name of a Facebook user.

A Facebook representative tells me that this is a feature of graph search and that these…

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There Is No Google Reader Replacement, Only Alternatives

TechCrunch

Google Reader is slowing down. Over the past few days, buttons have broken, marking feeds as read seemed to take a bit longer than usual, and the Android mobile website on some devices shifted over to the desktop view with no way to change things back. As users up until the bitter end, we can no longer complain about these events because Google doesn’t care – it’s shutting down Google Reader on July 1 and we all have to leave.

It’s the digital equivalent of bringing up the house lights when the rock concert is over. You don’t have to go home, folks, but you can’t stay here.

No one cares about RSS feeds, except for maybe 50 million of the Internet’s most voracious news readers*. Journalists, bloggers, programmers, technically savvy IT workers, researchers, students, startup founders, and anyone else who has grown accustomed to a simple product that lets

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Win A Case For The Unreleased Redesigned iPad

TechCrunch

So I just got an iPad case in the mail. It’s for the iPad 5. That model is not out yet. But you can have this case anyway.

Of course I have no way of knowing if this will, for an absolute fact, fit the next iPad, but the chances are good. At best, you’ll win a case for the next iPad. Or, likewise, you could win a fun conversation piece.

As shown by this case and the dozens available on the Chinese bulk marketplace, Alibaba, the next iPad will feature a different factor. Reminiscent of the iPad mini, the next iPad will have a thinner side bezel and dual speakers flanking the center-mounted Lightning connector.

This particular case doesn’t have a space for a back-mounted camera flash. It’s also a quarter inch narrower than my iPad 2 — a rather telling fact about the size of the bezel considering…

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Thanks To iOS 7’s Game Pad Support, Flipside Controller Case Gets A Second Shot

TechCrunch

The Flipside was a Kickstarter project I covered last December, which aimed to create a Bluetooth video game controller case that charged via solar power and used low-power Bluetooth 4.0. At the time, it had a very ambitious funding goal, and was hurt by the lack of official support for game pads in iOS. Now, it’s back on Indiegogo, with wind under its sails thanks to Apple’s inclusion of a universal game controller SDK in the upcoming iOS 7.

Flipside creator Justice Frangipane says that the Flipside was subject to Apple’s review last fall, and that the team there was very excited about the project and even offered support, but that Frangipane wasn’t allowed to discuss any details ahead of the announcement of iOS 7. The Flipside offers the ability to work as both case and controller for an iPhone, but can also work as a Bluetooth controller for…

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Despite Grumbles, Most Actually Prefer iOS 7 Icon Designs To iOS 6, Study Finds

TechCrunch

iOS 7 is getting a lot of mixed reaction from blogs, critics and the Twitterverse, but it’s actually winning over a lot of people, according to polls created by Polar, a mobile polling tool built by Input Factory to gauge user and community sentiment. Polar’s results find that in general, its users prefer iOS 7 versions of system icons almost two to one vs. the existing versions, with over 46,401 people total chiming in on the subject.

Those numbers represent the cumulative totals for all votes gathered on individual iOS 7 icons by the service since their unveiling at WWDC, and the data reveals that not only do people tend to prefer the iOS 7 versions overall, but they strongly prefer them in most cases. The redesigned Phone icon, for instance, garnered 80 percent pro-votes, with just 20 percent preferring the older design, and the Messages app icon was…

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Facebook’s Creepy Data-Grabbing Ways Make It The Borg Of The Digital World

TechCrunch

The latest Facebook data breach — which exposed personal contact information that Facebook had harvested on 6 million of its users — is a reminder that even if you’re not handing over all your contact data to Facebook, it is obtaining and triangulating that data anyway. And even if you’re not on Facebook yourself, your contact data likely is because the social network is building a shadow profile of you by data-mining other people.

You might never join Facebook, but a zombie you — sewn together from scattered bits of your personal data — is still sitting there in sort-of-stasis on its servers waiting to be properly animated if you do sign up for the service. Or waiting to escape through the cracks of another security flaw in Facebook’s systems.

Facebook is a crowd-fueled, data-mining machine that’s now so massive (1.11 billion monthly active users as of March 2013

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Europeans Will Now Know When And What Data Gets Compromised In A Breach — Unless It Was Encrypted

TechCrunch

In the wake of the latest notice from a major internet company revealing that user data has been compromised — Facebook’s admission of a security bug compromising data from 6 million users — the European Commission today is publishing new, Europe-wide rules that will require ISPs, carriers, broadband providers and others to report to both national regulators and to subscribers more specific detail about what has been compromised within 24 hours of the breach.

But it’s also throwing them a couple of bones. First, to get companies to invest a bit more in security, if they implement approved encryption techniques, then providers do not have to notify the subscriber if they have implemented the appropriate protection measures (although they still have to notify the national authority). Second, the EC is not requiring ISPs and others to report all breach details to subscribers; it merely gives them more specific criteria to…

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You’re Funny, Huawei

TechCrunch

And you thought holding a Galaxy Note II to your ear made you look like a tool. Meet the Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue, a tablet from a company that is clearly in touch with the needs of the common man.

No word on pricing or availability, but the tablet’s recent spotting in the FCC’s database suggests that Huawei is expecting to sell this to douche nozzles abroad.

SlashGear has the rest of the details if you must know the screen resolution or clock speed of the SoC.

All jokes aside, Huawei shouldn’t be dismissed as an also-ran out of China. Despite leaving the U.S. market over government scrutiny, the company is quickly becoming a global force in telecommunications. The company is a leader in its home of China, and was the third best-selling smartphone vendor worldwide at the end of 2012. Still, there isn’t anybody on earth that’s going…

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Device Shipments Up 6% To 2.4B In 2013, Driven By Android Smartphones, Tablets Amid More PC Decline

TechCrunch

Gartner today has released its latest figures charting its overall predictions for how IT devices — from PCs to mobile handsets — are going to perform this year and in 2014. As in years before, numbers will continue to climb: in 2013, total shipments will rise 5.9% to 2.35 billion, and will rise again in 2014 to 2.5 billion units, driven by portable, often less expensive, but just as powerful mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android will account for just over one-third of all devices this year, and nearly half in 2014. It’s an Android world after all.

But continuing a trend we have been seeing for some time, personal computers — which kicked off the technology love affair for consumers — will not be the hardware reaping the most benefits from that growth. PC shipments will decline this year to 305 million units, Gartner says, before dropping again…

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Bing For Schools Will Strip Out All Ads, Beef Up Privacy Protections And Adult Content Filtering

TechCrunch

Bing is taking a step to hep make its products more appealing for school-age children, with Bing For Schools, an opt-in program targeting K-12 institutions launching later this year. The program is context-specific version of Microsoft’s Bing search engine that gets rid of all ads from search results, and offers some bolstered privacy protections and more rigorous SafeSearch filtering of adult content.

Bing For Schools is a completely voluntary, opt-in program for schools in the U.S., so it’s still possible for any school to offer up the standard, none-modified version of Bing as well. Opting-in means Bing rolling out its more student-friendly version for anyone who types “Bing.com” into any URL field on any computer in the school’s network. It’s completely free for any participating school, too.

The Bing team isn’t sharing too much about what’s going on with Bing For Schools in terms of specifics at this point…

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Travel Search Site Wego Closes $17M Series C

TechCrunch

Travel search site, Wego, just closed its Series C round of $17 million.

The round was led by Crescent Point, a fund manager with offices in Singapore and China that focuses on investments in Asia.

Wego’s site provides a metasearch across about 600 airline carriers and 400,000 hotels, and charges business clients based on referrals to travelers coming in.

Earlier this year, it teamed up with home rental marketplace Travelmob to include the latter’s 400,000 Airbnb-style listings in its search too.

This round of funding brings the total so far to $36 million for the eight-year-old company, said Ross Veitch, Wego’s co-founder and CEO.

Wego was founded by Veitch and Craig Hewett, two Australians living in Singapore, where its headquarters are. The company also has offices in Australia, Indonesia, India and most recently in Dubai.

Veitch said the company plans to use the funding to hire more people…

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