Top tech stories of the day for Friday 15 November 2013

With plans starting at $5, Republic Wireless looks more ‘un-carrier’ than T-Mobile – Republic Wireless — a unique service that operates off of Sprint’s network but saves money by offloading calls and texts to Wi-Fi whenever possible — has launched the Moto X today for $299 off-contract. It’s a great price (Sprint sells its Moto X outright for $549.99), and it marks the first time a well-reviewed, reasonably high-end phone has been offered by the company.

Republic’s also debuting a new set of plans alongside the Moto X that start at $5 for unlimited Wi-Fi calling and texting without any cell service, all the way up to $40 for full-fledged unlimited LTE.

Odds are good you haven’t heard of Republic Wireless; its phones aren’t sold in any brick and mortar stores, and it only started offering service (initially as a beta with a waitlist) a couple of years ago.

With plans starting at $5, Republic Wireless looks more ‘un-carrier’ than T-Mobile

 

Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet available at AT&T on November 22nd for $399.99 – Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet is launching on AT&T next week. The Finnish smartphone maker revealed today that the tablet will debut on November 22nd, the same day as its 6-inch Lumia 1520 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, for $399.99 at AT&T. There’s no word yet on pricing or availability on Verizon, despite Nokia showing off branded versions of the Lumia 2520 at last month’s Nokia World in Abu Dhabi.

Nokia’s first tablet combines a 10.1-inch 1080p display with a keyboard cover that makes it look rather like Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet in the photos Nokia has supplied today. The company is shipping the Lumia 2520 with LTE onboard, a large 8,000 mAh battery, and a 6.7-megapixel rear camera. Nokia is also bundling in some Windows 8 apps of its own, including HERE maps, a camera app, and its Storyteller image application.

Nokia’s Lumia 2520 tablet available at AT&T on November 22nd for $399.99

 

ebay-hire

eBay, having exhausted your attic’s inventory, now aims to fix up your everything – The new local service marketplace, eBay Hire, has launched a U.S. beta pilot that is currently open only to service providers as it builds up its supply of services. The company is integrating Hire into its general ecosystem, so that a provider’s profile can be shown on relevant product search results. A freelance soccer coach, for instance, could be featured in an eBay Hire sidebar when one searches on the site for “soccer gear.”

During this beta period, no fees or commissions will be charged to providers, but once the promotional period is up, the company said the fee structure will resemble the fees charged for listing and/or selling on eBay.

The service has already been launched in the U.K., where you can find people who specialized in deliveries, upholstery, wedding photography, gardening, personal training, valuing of collectibles or music teaching, as well as old standbys like handyman-ing and plumbing.

eBay, having exhausted your attic’s inventory, now aims to fix up your everything

 


Dell’s XPS 11 convertible and refreshed XPS 13 now available starting at $1,000 – Dell’s Yoga competitor, the flexible XPS 11, has made its way into availability in the US and other select countries, with the refreshed XPS 13 also tagging along.

As we mentioned in our hands-on, the 11.6-inch ultrabook’s keyboard folds all the way back to transform into a tablet with an impressive 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display. The updated XPS 13 laptop, on the other hand, has gained a touchscreen option, as well as new Haswell processors like those in the XPS 11.

Both devices are now up for sale on Dell’s own site for at least $1,000, depending on specs. As always, the bigger the SSD storage space and the RAM, the more expensive it is. Almost all the laptops will ship with Windows 8.1 preinstalled, except the non-touch XPS 13 that’s keeping things dated with Windows 7 Home Premium.

Dell’s XPS 11 convertible and refreshed XPS 13 now available starting at $1,000

 

Google reportedly tried to outbid Facebook for Snapchat with $4 billion offer –  Just as the world was getting used to the news that Facebook attempted to buy Snapchat for $3 billion, a new report suggests that Google trumped that offer with a $4 billion bid of its own. GigaOm founder Om Malik first tweeted the rumor before Valleywag filled in the rest of the story.

Valleywag explains that, at around the same time as the Facebook offer, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel looked to Google for “strategic investment” in his instant messaging photo app. Ultimately, Spiegel decided to pass on both Google and Facebook’s offers, believing that, at the rate its traffic is growing, Snapchat would soon be valued even higher.

Had it been successful in its efforts, Google was reportedly planning to keep Snapchat as a standalone app, much like Facebook has done with Instagram. Valleywag notes that all of its information comes from a single source, and neither Snapchat nor Google has confirmed the timeline above.

Google reportedly tried to outbid Facebook for Snapchat with $4 billion offer

 

Court orders Homeland Security to release ‘kill switch’ protocol – Government agencies have long defended their right to a so-called “kill switch” for cell phones, the ability to shut down cell service for an entire area in the case of a remote-activated bomb threat or other extreme scenarios. But until now, the legalities of activating that switch, detailed in a document named SOP 303, have been a national secret, known only to government officials.

But it won’t be secret for much longer. This morning, a federal court in Washington, DC ruled that the document was not exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and gave the Department of Homeland Security 30 days to make SOP 303 public. “The Court is not unaware of the potential adverse use to which this information could be put,” the ruling says, but found the government’s case to weak to uphold.

Court orders Homeland Security to release ‘kill switch’ protocol

 

no-11

Sony launches PlayStation 4, fans go nuts – Sony launched its PlayStation 4 tonight across North America tonight at thousands of midnight store openings.

The company’s next-gen console is now on sale for $400 at retailers around the country (it comes out Nov. 29 in Europe). Sony held its launch event in New York at the Standard High Line Hotel in Manhattan, where the Japanese company rented out the whole hotel and put up a cool light show of video game scenes on the walls.

More than 500 fans showed up to be the first to pick up their pre-ordered PS 4s at the Standard. The earliest fans to show up came on Wednesday, which means they waited in the cold for more than 24 hours.Pictured at top is the first guy. Geoff Keighley,host of SpikeTV’s GTTV game show, hosted a live TV show with exclusive clips of the next Uncharted game on the PS 4 and downloadable content for The Last of Us.

Sony launches PlayStation 4, fans go nuts

 

Acer C720 Chromebook with Haswell
Acer unveils $200 Haswell-based Chromebook for the extra-thrifty – Acer gave its Chromebook line a welcome tune-up when it launched the Haswell-based C720, but the $250 starting price was no doubt disappointing to those who wanted the C7’s $200 entry point. The company is accommodating those spendthrifts today with its $200 C720-2848 variant.

The only sacrifice is a lower 2GB of RAM; owners still get a 1.4GHz Celeron processor, a 16GB solid-state drive and that vaunted 8.5 hours of battery life. Should you want to save a cool $50, or are just frustrated that you can’t buy a Chromebook 11, you can pick up the new C720 today from Amazon or Best Buy.

Acer unveils $200 Haswell-based Chromebook for the extra-thrifty

 

French newspaper shows power of photography by removing all images – French newspaper Libération this week removed all images from one of its daily print editions, as part of a statement on the importance of photojournalism at a time when several media outlets are cutting their staff. The November 14th issue was the paper’s first to be published without a single photo, writes Libération culture journalist Brigitte Ollier in an articled titled “Libération plunged into darkness.”

“In their place: a series of empty frames that create a form of silence; an uncomfortable one,” Ollier continues. “It’s noticeable, information is missing, as if we had become a mute newspaper. [A newspaper] without sound, without this little internal music that accompanies sight.”

French newspaper shows power of photography by removing all images

 

‘Towerfall,’ Ouya’s best game, is coming to the PlayStation 4 – The Android-based Ouya console doesn’t have many great games, but there is at least one standout: Towerfall, a Smash Bros.-style four-player combat game with an emphasis on archery. Now that game is coming to the PlayStation 4. Next year Towerfall’s six-month exclusivity with Ouya will expire, and while we knew the game would be making its way to the PC, developer Matt Thorson has revealed that it will be hitting the PS4 at the same time as well. Along with the new platform comes a new subtitle, as the next version of the game will be known as Towerfall: Ascension.

‘Towerfall,’ Ouya’s best game, is coming to the PlayStation 4

 

FDA approves skull implant that helps treat epileptic seizures – Epilepsy affects 3 million people in the US, making it the third most common neurological disorder in the country. In a move that may offer relief for some patients, the FDA has approved a skull implant that helps reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

The device is known as an RNS Stimulator, a neurotransmitter that sends electrical impulses to areas of the brain where seizures are believed to originate. Seizures occur when groups of neurons fire abnormally. This device is able to detect when seizure-causing electrical signals are happening in the brain, and fires impulses of its own in order to help regulate brain activity.

FDA approves skull implant that helps treat epileptic seizures

 

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Tom Peters.



Author: Tom Peters

Journalist. Digital enthusiast. Asking questions about media business models and writing for DailyTechWhip.com

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