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Cortaina Enters Public Beta on Android

If you're into Cortana, but don't want to make the plunge to a Windows Phone, Microsoft has dedicated themselves to pushing out their software to Apple and Android devices as well (sometimes before their own platforms). Cortana isn't done yet but all means, but it makes at least as good of a digital assistant as Siri - and you get to think of all the fond memories playing Halo to boot.

The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. With the app, you can manage your hectic lifestyle by setting and getting reminders, searching the web on-the-go, tracking important information such as flight details as well as starting and completing tasks across all of your devices.

Source: Windows Blog

BlackBerry Makes the Move to Android

BlackBerry has been teasing their Venice phone - an Android slider with a keyboard, and now they are showing off a BlackBerry Passport also running Google's OS. I've said for a while that BlackBerry hardware is great, but there isn't that much room for another mobile OS. Hopefully they still retain enough of their "Black-ness" to make them a worthy choice. Would you consider a BlackBerry that runs Android over a BlackBerry that runs the older BlackBerry OS?

BlackBerry's Android-powered smartphone is allegedly due later this year, but the company may also be rejigging one of its recent devices to run Google's OS. A video showing the BlackBerry Passport very clearly running Android Lollipop has surfaced. In the non-English clip above, you'll see the silver phone cycle through the Android home screen, app drawer, and Google Play.


Source: TheVerge, Neowin


ASUS ZenFone 2 Offers You More

If you hate the fact that many smartphones are sticking with lackluster 16GB or 32GB base storage options and can't stomache the premium for a little extra storage, there are a few options that allow you to add microSD cards. ASUS has been fighting the small-storage battle a different way. They have their ZenFone 2 and it offers 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and now even a 256GB option that won't break the bank. The author of the article notes that this ZenFone has more storage that his Macbook Air.

ASUS has announced ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition only in Brazil at this point in time, the company has not confirmed as yet if it has any plans of launching this variant in other markets across the globe, particularly North America. Aside from the pattern on the back and increased storage this handset is more or less the same as the ZenFone 2, with its 5.5 inch display, 64-bit Intel Atom processor coupled with 4GB RAM, 13 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front camera.

Source: Ubergizmo

Bing for Android One-Ups Google

Back at Google I/O, Google announced a features to Android M that puts context-search right in your device. While this may not sound like a big deal, it makes search relevant to the page and content you are reading at that moment and gives you much better results. This is one of Android M's "killer" features that make it special. Oh, and Microsoft just pulled it off with their Bing App for your Android device. Go get it now if you don't want to wait for Google. It seems limited to the USA at this point.

Yes, Microsoft has beaten Google to the punch at its own game, and Google won't be happy. Accessible from any app with a long press of the home key, Bing Search uses the Microsoft Knowledge Graph, already seen in action in Office 365, to create a contextual search result based on 'reading' the page you were on.

Source: TheInquirer

3D Printing - With Glass

MIT has managed to put together a machine that can 3D Print - using molten glass. This is as hot as it sounds and part way through the video below, you'll see them drop in a chunk of molten glass to refill the "ink" in their printer. Super awesome stuff.

Source: Vimeo

Halo TV Series Still Under Development

A while back, Showtime stated that they were working on a live-action Halo TV series that was met with mixed feedback. While I would love the idea of a Halo series, the reality is that it will probably fall horribly short of our expectations and that would tarnish the Halo franchise and I'm sure Microsoft doesn't want that. After the idea was touted around for a while, the word was, the idea was scrapped. Apparently that is not the case as it is still being worked on. 

I asked Nevins if we could hear any more details soon, and he replied, with a laugh, "No time soon." While there was no elaboration beyond this, it seems that whatever specific hurdles Halo has attached to it -- which obviously has many huge components involved, from Spielberg to Xbox -- it will continue to be a slow build towards actually making it to TV screens.

Source: IGN

VHS Camcorder

Have you been craving to go back to VHS quality video instead of the nice and crisp 1080P video that your iPhone produces? Well for $3.99 you can do that thanks to a new app called VHS Camcorder. It's pretty funny to see people paying money to make video worse but I guess the fun factor is definitely there. TechCrunch reviews this app over here.

If you long for the shitty quality videos of pre-2000, the ones shot on a camcorder, then this iOS app is for you. Fittingly, it’s called VHS Camcorder and it costs $3.99.

It’s kind of worth it, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t pay for a lot of apps.

Not only does your video get turned into something with zero HD quality whatsoever, it also sounds like utter crap. It even sticks that little date and time stamp on your video along with the “PLAY” text in the top right

Free Samsung Test Drive

Samsung is pretty sure that you'll choose their new Galaxy Note 5 or S6 Edge devices over an iPhone that they've started a 30 day test drive program for iPhone users where for $1 you can try out one of the new Samsung devices if you are a T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T customer that currently has an iPhone. It's interesting to see Samsung targeting Apple directly with a promotion like this, but there are only so many people who want a 'premium' handset and currently most of them either have a Samsung or Apple device. Tom's Guide has the details.

Samsung is confident that iPhone owners will love the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge  — so confident that the company is letting them try the new phones out for free. As part of the company's Ultimate Test Drive initiative, folks with iPhones can test Samsung's latest handsets for a month — complete with a data plan — for virtually nothing.


Apple Music

Apple Music has hit the 11 Million user mark which is a pretty impressive number for a new service. The not so impressive number is that 48% of those users have already quit the service. Even with only ~5 million users, Apple is still of course making good money off the service but it is interesting to see how users are more reluctant to sign up for another monthly subscription. The Guardian takes a closer look over here.

Just over half the people who sampled Apple Music have stuck around to use the service regularly, a study by music industry analytics firm MusicWatch has found. Apple recently took a victory lap for hitting the 11 million user mark among people who had sampled its new service, which is meant to compete with similar offerings from Spotify and Pandora. But 48% of those users aren’t there any more.

How Streaming Music Payments Works

The guys over at Medium have put together a very interesting article on just how music streaming services work and how in the end it's a bit of a rip off (mainly to the artists). The system is obviously flawed and as these services become more and more popular eventually artists are going to band together and demand some major changes in how people get paid.

If you subscribe to a subscription music service such as Spotify or Apple Music you probably pay $10 a month. And if you are like most people, you probably do so believing your money goes to the artists you listen to.Unfortunately, you are wrong.

The reality is only some of your money is paid to the artists you listen to. The rest of your money (and it’s probably most of your money) goes somewhere else. That “somewhere else” is decided by a small group of subscribers who have gained control over your money thanks to a mathematical flaw in how artist royalties are calculated. This flaw cheats real artists with real fans, rewards fake artists with no fans, and perhaps worst of all communicates to most streaming music subscribers a simple, awful, message: Your choices don’t count, and you don’t matter.

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