The DMV isn't the only one handing out vanity titles anymore. Sprint today announced its new partnership with Zoove Corp., which will provide personalized phone numbers for customers. For $3 a month, Zoove's StarStar Me program allows customers to use a name in place of their mobile number, turning Sprint into the first U.S. mobile carrier to offer such a service. Choose a name, nickname, or unique word that people can call by tapping the star key twice, followed by that name. For example, you could type **STEPH (**78374) or **TECHY (**83249) to call my fictional personalized number. Sprint expects the service to be popular with professionals, students, and families, who can tailor its use to their individual preferences, lifestyles, and interests, Kevin McGinnis, vice president of product and technology development, said in a statement. For two StarStar Me numbers, users pay $2.99 per month for calls within the U.S. from any Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T mobile phone. The service works on iOS, Android, and basic phones.
Reports have surfaced that Apple is planning for over 10 million iPad minis - or whatever they'll be called - to be available in the fourth quarter of this year, and that the design of the new 7.85-inch tablet could "outshine" its bigger brother, the iPad itself.
It looks like Microsoft is ready to begin phasing out its points-based currency starting with the launch of Windows 8. The latest beta for the upcoming operating system now allows users to pay for game, movie and music content using real money. While Microsoft Points are still available as an option, all default transactions will take place using a credit card. Microsoft's Xbox Live point system has been widely criticized for being confusing and difficult to convert into real prices.
Microsoft has rolled out a major update to the Kinect motion control runtime and SDK for Windows machines on Monday, unlocking new data tools for developers and allowing Kinect to perform in lower light and at longer ranges. Perhaps the biggest part of the SDK update on Monday is its vastly broadened availability. The Kinect SDK now features Windows 8 compatibility, which gives developers the ability to make apps for the soon-to-be-released next version of Windows. It also features compatibility with Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare and Parallels, letting Kinect control virtual machines as well. Finally, the Kinect for Windows SDK is now available in the largest market in the world, China.
In a scene reminiscent of a famous South Park episode, a hacker went on a massive killing spree in World of Warcraft over the weekend, taking advantage of a vulnerability to off hordes of characters in the popular online game before game administrators stepped in to stop him. The killer apparently captured his massacre on video. Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind World of Warcraft acknowledged that a hacker had used an exploit to conduct his massacre over the weekend and said it had administered a fix to keep it from happening again.
A major retailer has thrown its own Windows 8 launch party well ahead of Microsoft's plans - and the Windows giant is none too pleased because the operating system hasn't been officially released. The Home Shopping Network launched a website over the weekend detailing five new machines from Gateway and Acer all featuring the brand new operating system, which is as yet unavailable at retail. All of the systems sold out. That's a good sign for Microsoft.
About 20.1 percent of Facebook users connect to the service on an Android device compared to 18.9 percent of users who connect with an iOS device, according to data from Optimal, Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer last week that Facebook had more users on Android than iOS. We asked social media advertising and analytics platform provider Optimal for the details. Optimal's data shows about 189.8 million users active on Android devices - accessing Facebook through the native app or the mobile web. About 178.3 million are active on iOS. That's among 944.2 million monthly active users addressable with the Facebook Ads API, not the full billion announced last week.
T-Mobile has started stocking the extra-tiny SIM cards that fit the iPhone 5 for those customers who want to bring their unlocked phone to the carrier. Availability - just like the iPhone 5 itself - is going to vary from city to city. T-Mobile told NBC News the nano-SIM cards will "be available to customers by mid-October."
DP Review, one of the most authoritative sites on the web for camera reviews, looked at the iPhone 5 camera - and on page 3 of that review comes to the vexed issue: "people began reporting an issue with a mysterious 'purple haze' appearing in photos taken with a bright light source just outside of the frame," its reviewers noted. "There has been a lot of speculation to what may be causing this phenomenon." They then go on to consider - and reject - a number of possibilities: sensor blooming ("No. Blooming happens when the intensity of the light reaching the sensor is so great that there is an overflow of electrons that spill over into adjacent pixels. This is not a satisfactory explanation for the iPhone 5's purple haze, since sensor blooming affects the entire imaging field"). Chromatic aberration ("No, definitely not. Typically visible towards the edges of the frame especially in images taken using wide-angle lenses, CA takes the appearance of a green-and-magenta or blue-and-yellow 'fringing' around peripheral scene elements"), infrared sensitivity ("No, it isn't. This is one of the more outlandish suggestions"), or internal reflections/lens flare ("Almost certainly, yes").
Motorola's ongoing patent litigation in Germany is taking some more damage. Motorola has yanked some its products from its online store in Germany. Many of its smartphones and all of its tablets are gone from the site, German news site Areamobile reports. All that remains are three devices: The Motorola Razr i, the Motorola Razr HD, and the Motorola Gleam+. Motorola told Areamobile that the missing devices were being "reworked", but there's no word on when they will return. Motorola's North American arm, however, has a different story: It's simply phasing out its devices: "As we have previously stated Motorola Mobility is focusing on fewer mobile devices. As a result we have phased out some of our lower tier devices in Europe/Germany," a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.
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