Mark Wilson

Microsoft breaks into contactless mobile payments with Wallet for Windows 10 Mobile Insiders

microsoft-wallet

Apple has done it; Google has done it. Microsoft may be a little late to the party, but it's getting involved in the mobile payment game. Today the company releases Microsoft Wallet to Windows Insiders using Windows 10 Mobile build 14360 or higher.

Microsoft has teamed with MasterCard and Visa to provide a contactless payment solution that is -- for now -- available to Lumia 950, 950 XL and 650 users in the US. As well as making contactless payments, the app can also be used to store reward cards to reduce the amount of plastic you have to cart around with you.

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Twitter buys AI image firm Magic Pony Technology

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Twitter has demonstrated its commitment to artificial intelligence and machine learning by splashing a reported $150m on London-based Magic Pony Technology. The aim is to use the company's advanced technology to improve Twitter's live and video experiences.

Jack Dorsey describes Magic Pony Technology as a 'company that has developed novel machine learning techniques for visual processing'. Thus far this has been used to sharpen blurry images, create computer-generated images from scratch, and to learn to recognize objects.

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Protests from Apple and Microsoft mean there won't be a rifle emoji

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With the unstoppable growth of chat apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and the like, emoji have become an incredible phenomenon. The Unicode Consortium is due to publish the Unicode 9.0 spec tomorrow, and it seems that objections from Apple and Microsoft means we're not going to see a rifle emoji included.

The intervention is slightly surprising, yet not entirely unexpected. With the large number of high-profile mass-shootings such as in Orlando, debate about guns has come to the fore once again and the censorship of emoji is perhaps not completely unexpected. But at the same time, there is already a pistol emoji and there are not -- yet -- calls for it to be removed.

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Britain has more unicorns than anywhere else in Europe

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Unicorns are breeding in Britain. The country is now home to more than a third of European unicorns (tech companies valued at over $1 billion), but the whole of Europe is faring well.

A new report by GP Bullhound, an investment banking firm, reveals that there are 47 unicorns in Europe and 18 of them are to be found in Britain. The number of European unicorns has jumped by more than 20 percent in the last year, and the overall valued is placed at $130 billion (around £90 billion).

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Bag yourself an Apple Watch for just $49 at Best Buy

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If you're in the market for an Apple Watch but you've been put off by the price, Best Buy might just have a deal that will tempt you to part with your cash. How low would the price have to be to convince you? How does $49 sound?

There is, of course, something of a catch. It's certainly not the case that anyone who wants an Apple Watch could walk into Best Buy, hand over 49 notes and walk about with an Apple Wearable; there's a little more to it than that.

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Warning! GoToMyPC hit by password hackers

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By their very nature, remote access tools represent something of a security risk. It's only a couple of weeks since TeamViewer users complained about account hijacking, and now GoToMyPC has been hit by hackers.

The service has been hit by what is being described as a "very sophisticated password attack", and the company is advising all users to reset their passwords. Details are a little thin on the ground at the moment as an investigation is currently underway, but users are warned to monitor their account and change their passwords.

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Hack your OnePlus 3 to take full advantage of its 6GB of memory

oneplus_3

When your phone has 6GB of RAM, you expect it to be able to run all of the apps you want at the same time. The low-cost 'flagship killer' OnePlus 3 is one such handset, but people who have got their hands on the phone are discovering the it doesn’t necessarily use the available memory as they would have expected.

Tests show that the OnePlus 3 requires apps to be reloaded more frequently that phones with less RAM, and this has upset some users. The good news is that -- providing you don't mind getting your hands dirty with a little hacking -- you can dramatically improve your phone's memory management.

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What is Optic AMOLED?

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There's quite a lot to get excited about with regard to the newly announced OnePlus 3. After lots of teasing, the 'flagship killer' handset was revealed earlier this week as a 5.5-inch, dual SIM beast packing a Snapdragon 820 and 6GB of RAM.

But among all the specs that seem familiar, or at least make sense, there is the display. This is a 1080p panel powered by an Adreno 530 chip, with protection coming courtesy of Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It's described as being an Optic AMOLED, but what does that actually mean?

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Abracadabra! Microsoft acquires Wand Labs to conjure up some chat bot magic

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Continuing the spending spree that started with snapping up LinkedIn earlier this week, Microsoft today announces that it has acquired Wand Labs. The mobile developer has a chat-centric focus, and will help Microsoft to build on the Conversation as a Platform ideas Sayta Nadella has been championing of late.

Neither Wand Labs nor Microsoft has shared details of the amount of money that is changing hands, but the acquisition will assist Microsoft in developing its Bot Framework. Wand Labs' natural language technologies will extend the capabilities of Windows, Bing, Microsoft Azure and Office 365, particularly with intelligent agents and chat bots.

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Microsoft rolls out Windows Store update that allows you to choose install locations for apps

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The advent of app stores has meant that software installation is very hands-off process these days. Select the app you want, hit install, and everything is taken care of for you. On one hand, this is great as it simplifies and accelerates things, but it also removes an element of control from the user.

With an update to the Windows Store app in Windows 10, Microsoft is changing this. Building on the ability to move apps from one drive to another, Windows 10 Anniversary Edition will now ask where you would like to install larger apps -- a real boon for people with more than one hard drive.

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In macOS Sierra, Safari 10 will simply ignore Flash in favor of HTML5

Adobe Flash logo

Flash -- despite the best efforts of many -- is not quite dead. It continues to hang around like a festering scab, just waiting to be cast off forever. With macOS Sierra, Apple is playing its part in consigning Flash to the history books, pushing HTML5 to the fore.

Following in the footsteps of Google Chrome, starting with Sierra, Apple's Safari will ignore Flash even if the legacy plugin is installed. HTML5 will be favored for each and every site -- a marked difference from Chrome which maintains a list of exceptions (such as YouTube) which could still make use of Flash.

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Apple: Developers must use App Transport Security by 2017

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Apple has announced that the deadline by which app developers must enable App Transport Security (ATS) in all apps is 1 January 2017. ATS is not a new feature of iOS 10, having been introduced in iOS 9 and it increases the security of data transferred over the web by apps.

With ATS enabled, apps are forced to use the far more secure HTTPS rather than HTTP, and this is something we've become accustomed to looking out for when browsing the web. At the moment, developers are able to disable ATS, but from the end of the year this will no longer be possible.

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Facebook rolls out suicide prevention tools around the world

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Facebook has announced that an updated batch of suicide prevention tools are being rolled out globally. It's a feature that has been available in some parts of the English-speaking world for a little while, but now the social network has decided to offer them up to everyone.

The aim is to make it easier for people to reach out to friends who they believe may be either suicidal, or at risk of self-harming. The tools have been developed in conjunction with people with experience of suicide and self-harm, as well as mental health charities. In addition to giving Facebook users the chance to reach out to those they may be concerned about, Facebook is also providing a round-the-clock worldwide team to whom concerns can be voiced.

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Facebook denies being pro-Brexit, but removes pro-Brexit status option anyway

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In the US, Facebook has been hit with accusations of having a anti-conservative bias in its news coverage. In the UK, the social network stands accused of being pro-Brexit in the upcoming EU referendum.

The Brexit-related accusations came about after it was noticed that Facebook offered a readymade status update proclaiming to be "in favour of leaving the EU", but didn’t have a balancing pro-remain option as easily accessible. Despite this, Facebook categorically denies any form of bias.

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Napster's back! (soon)

napster-is-coming

Taking more than a little inspiration from Game of Thrones, music streaming service Rhapsody has announced a rebranding. 'Napster is coming', proclaims the Rhapsody blog. This is a name that should be very familiar, particularly to old-school pirates.

Napster is a name deeply entrenched in P2P history, but turned its back on its naughty ways following its acquisition by Roxio and then Best Buy. Five years ago, Rhapsody swallowed up Napster and now the company feels it's time to revive the name.

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