Google buys music service Songza to take on Apple and Beats

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Google announced today that it’s acquiring the streaming-music service Songza for an undisclosed sum. Over the coming months it will be integrating the company’s smart playlist creation into Google Play Music and perhaps YouTube. Songza will remain an active and independent app for the time being. The purchase highlights the increasingly competitive landscape emerging around music, as Apple, Amazon, and Google all seek to differentiate their mobile products by offering top-notch streaming services.

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FTC accuses T-Mobile of charging its customers for fraudulent cell phone spam

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T-Mobile may claim that it always has its customers’ best interests at heart, but the US government thinks otherwise. The FTC just filed a suit against the carrier alleging that it has been engaging in the practice of “cramming” its customers’ bills with false charges. According to the FTC, T-Mobile commonly adds charges for “premium” SMS-based subscriptions for services like “flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip” that typically cost $9.99 per month. Furthermore, the FTC is claiming that T-Mobile did nothing to stop these charges for years after it signs showed the services were spam.

Lastly, the FTC says that the services in question had refund request rates of up to 40 percent in a single month — a fact that the…

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One of the most beautiful games ever gets the posters it deserves

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With its painterly style, Okami is easily one of the most beautiful experiences in gaming, and now you can hang it on your walls. Publisher Capcom has partnered with Dutch art dealership Cook & Becker to release a series of limited edition, “museum-grade” art prints for the game, which was originally released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006.

The new hand-numbered prints feature a variety of art and designs from Takeyasu Sawaki, Kenichiro Yoshimura, and Mari Shimazaki who all worked on the…

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The history of the Walkman: 35 years of iconic music players

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We take portable music for granted these days. Any commuter in any big city in the world is more likely than not to have a pair of earbuds or headphones on as they walk, bike, or ride to their destination. The thing is, personal portable music didn’t exist for most of human history, at least not in any mainstream fashion. Not until the Sony Walkman came along.

The first of Sony’s iconic portable cassette tape players went on sale on this day, July 1st, back in 1979 for $150. As the story…

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Aereo turns to Congress to reverse Supreme Court decision

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Last week saw the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, effectively wipe Aereo off the map by making the company’s streaming service illegal. The decision had swift ramifications, with the company alerting customers over the weekend that it would suspend its offerings until it worked out next steps with the courts. In a last-ditch effort, CEO Chet Kanojia today sent a letter to customers urging them to notify Congress that they want the decision reversed.

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Yo has a real purpose now

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Yo is a great way to annoy your friends, but it could also turn into something much more — a simple way to manage push notifications across multiple apps and gadgets. Today, we got the first taste of how Yo might actually be useful on a daily basis. The company has launched an IFTTT channel that lets you automate light switches, air conditioning, text messages, and phone calls, all by sending a Yo to IFTTT. For now, this means you can only set up one function at a time, which is unfortunate. Here are some of the many ways you can use Yo with IFTTT:

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Amazon orders TV pilot about a sickness spreading over social media

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Social media has been a frequent source of comedy — it’ll even be a pretty central aspect to ABC’s upcoming sitcom Selfie. But later this year, Amazon is planning to turn social media into a source of terror. In its next pilot season, a show called Hysteria will follow a town where a strange “psycho-physiological illness” causing violet fits and spams appears to be spreading through social media. How is that possible? It’s entirely unclear for now, but perhaps it’s something like a really bad meme.

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John Oliver rips the Supreme Court for treating companies like people

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John Oliver has been on fire lately. Even though his new show only airs on Sunday nights, he’s consistently put out segments that speak to — and occasionally create — the following week’s news cycle. And this weekend, Oliver delivered another of his thorough and thoroughly hilarious segments, this time focused on the Hobby Lobby case.

Even though the Supreme Court only handed down its controversial decision yesterday, finding that certain companies can reject Obamacare’s birth-control mandate on religious grounds, Oliver more or less sees what’s coming, mocking the idea that a company could be considered a person. “If corporations want to be people, they should have to take the rough with the smooth,” Oliver says. “For start, companies…

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Former Tinder exec sues company for sexual harassment and discrimination

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Tinder is being sued for the sexual harassment and discrimination of a former marketing director who alleges that she was stripped of her title as co-founder and ultimately had to leave the company after being repeatedly subjected to abusive behavior. The suit focuses on the actions of Tinder’s marketing chief, Justin Mateen, who allegedly began harassing marketing VP Whitney Wolfe, who filed the suit, after the two ended a relationship.

Mateen reportedly told Wolfe that he was removing her title because having a “24?year-old girl” as a co-founder “devalues” the company and makes it “seem like a joke.” He’s also alleged to have sent Wolfe racist, sexist, and homophobic text messages, and referred to her in abusive ways, including…

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Apple brings two-step verification to iCloud website and apps

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Apple rolled out two-step verification for Apple IDs about a year-and-a-half ago. Now it’s finally bringing the same added security measure (which sends a numeric code to your phone or other trusted Apple device that you need to enter after your password) to its iCloud website and apps. As observed by AppleInsider, users who already have two-step verification enabled on their Apple IDs may see their iCloud web apps — Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Notes, etc. — greyed out and “locked” until they enter in the code sent to their devices.

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Hollywood reviews Michael Bay, the person

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Before Michael Bay had Optimus Prime riding a mechanical dinosaur, he made the original “Got Milk?” television commercial. Over at GQ, Sean Fennessy compiled an intricate series of quotes from Hollywood’s elite that help put the life of the “testosterone-sweating” director into perspective. “Michael Bay has a mainline to the testosterone glands of the American male,” remarked Transformers: Dark of the Moon actor Frances McDormand, one of the over 60 people who gave their testimonials to GQ.

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Boston’s solar-powered benches can charge your phone

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Visitors at select Boston-area parks will soon be able to sit, relax, and charge their mobile devices. Dubbed “Soofas,” these solar-powered benches will also disseminate location-based information such as noise, temperature, and air pollution levels through a website, according to Yahoo Tech. The high-tech amenity was first piloted in 2013, and has since been upgraded to include a larger seating area and the ability to plug in two phones simultaneously via USB. In the future, Soofas may feature inductive charging stations similar to those being deployed in Starbucks outlets through out the US.

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GE takes on Philips’ Hue with a lower-priced connected light bulb

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GE has been stepping into the smart home market, and its newest entry is a connected LED light bulb called Link. Link bulbs are basic, single-color lights primarily meant to allow homeowners to control lighting straight through a smartphone app. But more importantly, Link bulbs are also some of the least expensive connected options out there. The bulbs will sell through Home Depot and are available from just below $15 to just below $25, depending on the type. Because of its lower pricing, GE is calling Link the “first commercially viable connected bulb.”

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Texts and Facebook messages blamed for bank run in Bulgaria

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A coordinated effort to create panic about the health of Bulgaria’s banking system has led the European Commission to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion lev ($2.3 billion USD). That money is being used to stabilize and safeguard the country’s banks after customers received mysterious text messages last week urging them to withdraw funds quickly. Bugarian President Rosen Plevneliev and other government leaders have sought to avert a crisis by emphasizing that all money stored with the country’s banking institutions is safe.

Corporate Commercial Bank was the first victim of last week’s bank run, and withdrawals became so widespread that Bulgaria’s fourth-largest lender was forced to shut down and cede control to the central bank. Just…

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Emojli is a chat app that only lets you send emoji

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Emoji is the true language of the internet, spanning all borders and allowing any dispute to be resolved through a series of tiny, bizarre, and occasionally incomprehensible glyphs. That makes it, perhaps, the prefect way to communicate over the internet too, and so the upcoming app Emojli intends to make it the only way to talk. On Emojli, your username and messages will consist entirely of emoji. As its creators put it, that means no hashtags, memes, or trolls — just pure, fun, weird communication.

At first, Emojli will only be an instant messaging app in the vein of Yo or Snapchat, but its creators tell us that Emojli could go elsewhere from there. They plan to launch in late July or early August, and you can already head over to E…

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Google Glass will be banned from most UK movie theaters

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Google Glass went on sale in the UK last week, and it’s already encountering some pushback. According to The Independent, Google Glass will be banned from most movie theaters in the country, with a rule being put in place to bar them from theater auditoriums even when movies aren’t playing.

The decision was made by the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, a trade group that says it represents 90 percent of UK theater operators. “Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums,” Phil Clapp, the CEA’s chief executive, tells The Independent, “whether the film is playing or not.”

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Stream the entire first episode of HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ for free

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Last night’s debut of The Leftovers on HBO marked Damon Lindelof’s return to TV, and viewers are already buzzing about the Lost co-creator’s new show. If you missed the premiere, you can watch the entire first episode via Yahoo Screen — even if you’re not an HBO subscriber. Based on a bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers begins three years after millions of people mysteriously vanish without any explanation. Two percent of the world’s population is suddenly gone, and everyone who remains is still trying to cope with what happened.

The series, adapted for TV by Lindelof and Perrotta (with Lindelof serving as showrunner), is already off to a strong and intriguing start. HBO hopes it can pull in decent-sized audience while the…

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Google must face Street View privacy suit after Supreme Court declines challenge

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Google will have to contend with a class-action lawsuit alleging that its Street View cars illegally snooped on private Wi-Fi networks after the US Supreme Court declined this morning to hear a challenge to dismiss the complaint. Google said in 2010 that its Street View cars had accidentally been collecting content sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, explaining that it had stopped the practice as soon as it realized this was happening. Nonetheless, various lawsuits and investigations have popped up in the time since, with Google settling a major interstate investigation a little over a year ago.

Beyond that, Google has been caught up in a class-action suit over whether its actions violated the Wiretap Act. Google argued that Wi-Fi…

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LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live review: the first Google watches

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I’ve been looking at my phone a lot less recently. Normally, no buzz in my pocket can go un-checked, no news alert or Snapchat unseen. But thanks to these watches I’ve been wearing, my phone spends a lot more time in my bag. I can just flick my wrist to see what’s going on.

Smartwatches have become a thing. They’re a thing because Google says so, because it just released Android Wear and unleashed a torrent of wrist-bound devices. As a result, we’re being forced to consider an important…

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Banned beans: can Keurig kill coffee pirates with DRM?

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No company has done more to change the way Americans drink coffee in the last several years than Keurig Green Mountain. Its method of brewing coffee by injecting hot water into prepackaged plastic pods has quickly grown to rival drip coffee as the preferred means of getting a quick hit of caffeine. “It was slow to start, but now it’s growing by leaps and bounds,” says Joe DeRupo, communications director at the National Coffee Association. “It’s the biggest change in coffee-brewing technology since Mr. Coffee was introduced in the 1970s.”

One of every four dollars Americans spend on coffee to be brewed at home is now spent on pods, and Keurig, which pioneered the process in the US, dominates the market. But Keurig’s hold on the industry…

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