Alan Buckingham

Spotify shows Windows Phone love, goes free on the platform


While Windows Phone gets a lot of attention for what it doesn't have, the Microsoft mobile platform is slowly making progress. Now it is scoring a major win, and getting on par with rivals, as Spotify announces it will be going free for Windows Phones.

The new update means customers can now listen to their music without ponying up the monthly fee for a Premium account. The new free version is ad-supported, and customers can still choose to pay the monthly fee for Premium, and eliminate those ads -- and also get offline playlists, as well.

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Bing Maps expands its transportation features in Japan


The land of the rising sun, Japan, has some bustling cities. That can lead to headaches for tourists attempting to navigate the foreign surroundings -- not the easiest thing to traverse, as many travelers have learned.

However, Bing is attempting to improve on this, adding new features to its mapping service within the nation. Multiple updates have been made to the services.

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Amazon gives go-ahead for pilots of 5 new kids shows


In the new online original content landscape, Amazon is not messing around, having announced several new comedy shows debuting this year. Now the streaming video service arm of the retailer is greenlighting new pilots of kids shows as well, though these aren't the first to hit Prime.

In all, five new pilots were announced, though this means little about which will survive, as Amazon allows the viewers to vote. The winners gain a full season production run. The losers simply go away after one episode.

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Madden 15 for Xbox One now up for pre-order


Football season has arrived, at least in the form of training camps and practice games. As people's minds turn towards the sport, gamers also get excited about the latest Madden release. To that end, Madden 15 is heading for Xbox One. Beginning now the game can be pre-ordered, and there are some bonuses if you jump through the necessary hoops.

Xbox Live chief Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, did the honors of announcing the release. The game can be downloaded, but will not be playable until the official launch date, which is slated for 12:01am PDT on August 26th, so not far off at all.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but is it good or bad?


The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken off on social media in the past week or so. The campaign is designed to fuel awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease -- a problem that has famously, and sadly, afflicted Stephen Hawking, though many others are just as unfortunate. It's certainly a worthwhile cause, and something everyone should be aware of and fund, if they can spare a few dollars.

But what if a major company attempted to hijack the pledge drive for the benefit of its product? It's really hard to say if that is what Samsung has done, but it certainly seems to be that way.

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Sophos looking for beta testers for new Android security software, prizes offered

photo by Slavoljub Pantelic, Shutterstock

While the claims of Android malware may be a bit overblown, it does exist and has to be a consideration for customers. That fact has brought about an abundance of software designed to combat the perceived problem.

Now Sophos is jumping into the market with an updated version of its offering, but for the moment this latest version is in a testing phase. The company is calling on Android users to begin beta testing the new offering, and the security firm is adding an incentive in the form of prizes for people willing to step up.

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Pebble scores the ESPN app, brings sports to your wrist


Yes, I know not everyone is a smartwatch fan. It is a device reserved for geeks, athletes and the curious souls who wish to know what it's about. Pebble was one of the first to market (Microsoft came early, but failed) and now it has one more app to get existing customers, and potential ones, excited.

With baseball season heading into the homestretch and football, basketball and hockey all looming, the company has landed ESPN for its wrist technology. You'll get scores and game updates right from the watch -- Sports Center always with you while you're out and about, not sitting on the sofa watching the game.

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The Score brings new mobile features in time for football season


The NFL season is about to get underway, though pre-season games are already in full swing. The Score wants to bring you all of the action with its latest "mobile-first" update, that includes lots of enhancements for fantasy team owners, as well.

The app is multi-sport, so don't worry if you’re a fan of baseball or basketball instead. This update announcement, though, focuses on the season at hand. The new version promises to "provide the most detailed, comprehensive, in-depth football data found on a multi-sport mobile app".

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Rdio teams up with SoundHound for new feature

music woman tablet headphones

Rdio, one of the top streaming music services, and SoundHound, an ace at recognizing what music you're listening to, are teaming up to bring better integration to customers. The two companies are announcing a new agreement that will bring them together in a unique way, allowing customers to utilize the two in tandem.

Beginning now, the latest SoundHound update will begin placing tagged songs into a playlist titled, appropriately enough, "Soundhound". This playlist will be accessible from within your Rdio account. The new service is named "Connect to Rdio".

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NFL Now comes to Apple TV in time for the season


The football (US version -- apologies to those in the rest of the word) season is getting under way, as the NFL kicked off the pre-season two weeks ago with the traditional Hall of Fame game. At the same time, the league has been pushing out its new Now app to various platforms like Xbox One, Fire TV and Roku.

The latest to get the new service is Apple's living room solution, the Apple TV. Like its rivals, the tiny box is getting the app, which brings the NFL alive in video format. This adds the massive library of NFL Films, along with original content, made specifically for the app, as well as a bit of live stuff, such as press conferences.

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Tour the wild expanses of Iceland with Google Maps


Iceland is an island that lays in the middle of the Atlantic between Norway and Greenland, thought to have first been populated by Celtic monks. It's also a stark landscape, dotted with volcanoes and geysers, that give it a certain beauty and savagery.

If it happens to be on your bucket list of places to see, and the trip isn't in your budget at the moment, fear not -- Google Maps can give you a glimpse of the country. The search giant has unveiled its latest use of Street View, and this one treks across Iceland.

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A Linux Trojan gets ported to Windows


While most people consider Linux safe and secure, it isn't always the case. When the bad guys of the internet have a will, they find a way. That's why, back in May of this year, security firm Dr. Web reported a new family of Linux Trojans designed for DDoS attacks.

Now the company reports that one member of that family, known by the catchy name of "Trojan.DnsAmp.1" has been ported over to the Windows side of the computing world.

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Xbox One August update begins to roll out


Microsoft's continued updates of its latest console, the Xbox One, will keep going with a new August feature roll out, that is beginning today. There are many new things included that should keep gamers and entertainment aficionados satisfied.

Microsoft's Xbox Live chief Larry Hryb, who's better known as Major Nelson, made the official announcement, along with outlining the benefits for customers.

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Amazon App Store holds a Coin sale

Amazon coins

Amazon's app store utilizes its own currency system, in the form of Coins. These can be used by customers to purchase apps, but like other monetary inventions, it does cost real money. However, Amazon is currently holding a sale.

The company is offering its Coins at a discount, saving customers 20 percent off the regular price. That's a nice saving for the apps you want to grab.

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Despite Microsoft's takedown, GameOver Zeus botnet rises again

remote access laptop hacker security

Back in early June Microsoft announced it had taken down the GameOver Zeus botnet, in an effort to protect customers. But, thwarting the internet bad guys is much more difficult in practice than it is in theory. Now security researches claim the phoenix is rising from its ashes.

The folks at Arbor Networks, a security research firm, have been keeping regular tabs, and have noted a sudden and very rapid growth. The rise is actually due to a new variant that seems to be spreading quickly, but has become most prevalent in the US.

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