Apple says Beats Music service not shutting down, but reports indicate branding could change

While Apple promised when it acquired the company that it would continue offering the Beats Music streaming service on Android and Windows in addition to iOS, the fait of the service is now uncertain. According to a report from TechCrunch, Apple plans to shut down the Beats Music streaming service it recently acquired through its acquisition of Beats. The report cites several sources close to the situation including “several prominent employees at Apple and Beats.”

Update: Apple tells Re/code that the streaming service is not shutting down. However, Re/code says that the branding could be altered at some point in the future.

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Starbucks for Android updated w/ new widgets, ability to digitally tip, shake your phone to pay, more

The Starbucks app on Android has always been on the forefront of mobile payment and technology features, and this evening, the app has received an update making it even more useful for customers. Bumping the app to version 2.7, the update today adds a handful of new features, including the ability to pay tips digitally and shake your phone to pay.

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Google Apps for Work users can now install software without the need of an administrator

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If your employer uses Google Apps, you can now install new software from Mountain View’s business-centric catalog without the need of an administrator. To start digging around for new third-party apps to use, click More,” and select “More from Apps Marketplace.” While employees will have access to a stockpile of new applications by default, admins can fine-tune settings to display which apps are available to their staff.

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WATCH Disney apps, Twitch, iHeart Radio, & more updated w/ Chromecast support

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Google announced today a new batch of popular apps being updated with Chromecast support. Perhaps most notable are the WATCH Disney apps including WATCH Disney, WATCH Disney Junior and WATCH Disney X DAll three apps on both iOS and Android now support streaming to Chromecast.

Also available starting today support for sending content from the popular iHeartRadio app: Music aficionados can now cast and blast music from the best speakers in the house with iHeartRadio. The app lets you listen to more than 1,500 live radio stations from all over the U.S. or customize your own.

Additionally, users of the Twitch gameplay video platform can now stream to Chromecast from both the iOS and Android apps. Read more

eBay for Android updated with a new design and in-app notifications

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If you’re eyeing a new smartphone and plan on unloading your old gear on eBay to finance your next purchase, you’ll be glad to know that the world famous e-commerce company has redesigned its Android app. Hopping on the Material Design bandwagon, version 2.7 ships with a simple, flat, sterile look that features larger photos and refined search results.

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Google Play two hour refund policy now official for apps and games

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Last month, we found out that Google was extending the return period for some of Google Play’s games from 15 minutes to two hours. A new update to the company’s support page has confirmed the change, making the two hour refund policy official for paid applications and games. An extra hour and 45 minutes sounds great, but it should be noted that way back in the days of the Android Market, Google used to give customers a full day to return undesirable software.

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Google launches Applause, a Hangouts on Air feature that tracks cheers and jeers in real-time

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Google announced a new feature for Hangouts on Air today called Applause, which lets viewers give a thumbs up or down to the content they’re viewing during a live video broadcast. In addition to sharing cheers and jeers,  this new features lets the search giant generate a real-time chart documenting the audience’s feedback as it happens. Despite looking like a game of Guitar Hero, the colorful graph gives broadcasters an easy way to monitor viewers’ feelings about their efforts. Think of it as a modern-day version of The Gong Show.

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You can now install free Chrome Web Store apps without a Google account

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Casual Chrome users rejoice! You can now install free apps without having to sign into the Chrome Web Store. Revealed by platform evangelist François Beaufort, this new option lets people pick up software without the need of a Google account. This type of setup could be useful to people who haven’t fully committed to using Mountain View’s web browser on a full-time basis.

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Android users at last get access to Amazon Instant Video as of today

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Amazon seems to have finally accepted that access to Amazon Instant Video still isn’t going to make anyone want to buy a Fire Phone. As of today, Amazon Prime members in the U.S. can watch Instant Video on any Android device using the updated Amazon app.

Prime members in the US can stream unlimited Prime Instant Video from inside the Amazon app using the Prime Instant Video player, including HBO shows The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under, and The Wire …

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Nest Protect smart smoke detector updated w/ Steam Check, Safety History, more

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Shortly after Google acquired Nest, Tony Fadell’s company behind the smart thermostat and smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector, the company ran into a patch of unrelated issues with its Nest Protect product launched months earlier with reports of false alarms from many users and an issue with the ‘wave to dismiss’ feature touted as a key benefit of the product. A soft recall later followed remotely disabling the dismiss feature after a safety bug was discovered followed by a reduced price once it went back on sale.

While the ability to motion to dismiss an alarm is still disabled as the company works toward better implementing it reliably, current and future Nest Protect owners will benefit from new features delivered through a software update for the product. Steam Check, a feature that takes advantage of the device’s humidity sensor and an advanced algorithm, now allows the Nest Protect to distinguish smoke from steam by determining the presence of moisture. Steam from hot water shouldn’t be a reason to panic, and the Nest Protect says this feature will reduce the number of false alarms for users. Read more