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Google's Sundar Pinchai

It's shaping up to be a big year for mobile payments, what with Apple Pay enjoying rapid adoption and Samsung finally getting in the game too. Google also has a presence, but it's only very recently decided to ramp up its efforts in this space. Last week, we saw the company team up with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to preload its Wallet mobile payment app on new Android phones, and now it's creating a new framework to power payments across its OS.

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Google's aerial ambitions continue unabated. Need proof? Just talk to Sundar Pichai -- just before he sat down for a Q&A with Bloomberg's Brad Stone at MWC, the Google SVP confirmed the company's internet-beaming Titan drones would take their flight in the coming months, and that its Project Loon balloons now stay afloat for "six months at a time. The last time Google decided to speak publicly about its fleet of internet-beaming Project Loon balloons, they could languidly hang in the atmosphere for about 100 days. That's not a bad stretch considering these things can now deliver LTE data speeds to devices on the ground, but Google's got these things running even better than before.

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Google has just confirmed a rumor at Mobile World Congress that many thought unlikely: it'll launch its own "white label" MVNO cell network. That means it'll carry or resell wireless services from larger operators in one way or the other, not unlike, say, Boost Mobile. However, Android head Sundar Pichai stressed that the service wouldn't operate on a large scale or compete head-to-head against carriers like AT&T or Verizon. Instead, he likened it to Google's Nexus devices, calling it a way to drive new technology in order to make cellular and WiFi services work together in a "seamless" fashion.

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Ever since I experienced a live 3D virtual reality broadcast for the first time, I've been giving demos of the technology to anyone who will sit still long enough for me to put a Gear VR on their head. Across the board, the reactions have included at least two things: "this is amazing" and "can you move around like you're really there?" Now, NextVR says the answer to that question is yes, since it's adding "Light Field" (aka plenoptic) capture technology to existing rigs (like this 6K unit shown above) that will let viewers look around the scene with full six degrees of freedom. This is similar to the tech Lytro uses for its cameras that lets you change focus after a picture is taken -- and just got a $50 million investment to implement on VR. According to NextVR, its patented approach creates a 3D geometric model of the scene (shown after the break) ready for headsets like the Oculus Rift, Sony's Project Morpheus or even augmented reality units like Microsoft's HoloLens or Magic Leap's... whatever it is.

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Wacom has a habit of trotting out non-touch versions of its stylus-friendly tech first. The Cintiq 13HD arrived back in 2013, and one of my main gripes with the device was its lack of support for your fingertips. Well, the company finally announced the touch-enabled version today, nearly two years after the original's debut. And yes, it still packs in a Pro Pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The adjustable stand is included too, and the customizable ExpressKeys and a Rocker Ring will wrangle your go-to tools quickly. In fact, as far as I can tell, the only difference between this and the previous version is the added touch compatibility. There's no denying Wacom's pen tablets and displays are way more useful with when you can get your fingers more involved, I only wish it'd give us the choice from the start. Surely those who've already invested are going to be a bit upset -- and rightfully so. If you held out, though, the Cintiq 13HD can be yours this month for $999.

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Middle Eastern terror group ISIS has apparently threatened the lives of Twitter's employees, as well as that of its chairman, Jack Dorsey. The threat was reportedly made as a response to the service's policy of blocking accounts that directly encourage acts of violence or illegal activities such as terrorism. BuzzFeed has translated portions of the message, part of which reads "when our lions come and take your breath, you will never come back to life."

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Dropbox plus Vodafone equals...

Dropbox just scored a huge deal that will not only put its cloud storage in front of a lot of people, but help you safeguard your smartphone's data. The company has forged a partnership with Vodafone that both gives the carrier's Android and iPhone users 25GB of free space for a year and integrates Dropbox into Vodafone's new Backup+ service. Rather than depend on a specialized backup space, you simply save your valuable files to Dropbox -- you can restore content on other devices and share it with friends without having to use two services or limit the kind of data you protect. The Backup+ app will be available as soon as the end of March, although the service itself will take a few months to reach "most" Vodafone areas.

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At CES in January, Ford threw down its "Smart Mobility Plan" to make transport easier using a combination of cars and electric bikes. Today at MWC, it just revealed the actual "bike" part of that with its "Handle on Mobility" experiment consisting of two employee-designed e-bike prototypes and an app. The foldable MoDe:Me for commuters was built in conjunction with Dahon, while the bigger MoDe:Pro -- built by an in-house team -- is aimed at bike couriers and delivery services. Both come with 200-watt motors and 9-amp-hour batteries that deliver pedal-aided speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph). Ford also revealed its iPhone 6-compatible MoDe:Link app that lets you use a combination of cars, trains and e-bikes to commute.

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When Jolla launched its tablet on Indiegogo, it was an instant success. Today that tablet is being shown to the media for the first time at MWC. But, that's not all that the plucky mobile start-up has to reveal. With the new tablet comes the second version of Jolla's Sailfish OS. Version 2.0 not only brings some features you'd expect (like easy scaling between phones and tablets -- to accommodate its new hardware) but also some new, bigger picture additions like support for Intel's Atom x3 chipset, a new push to into licensing with OEM hardware, and a couple of direct swipes at Android, and how it gathers your data.

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Silent Circle, the outfit behind the security-oriented Blackphone, has just revealed two new handsets and "the world's first enterprise privacy platform." The first Blackphone was unveiled last year for (understandably) paranoid entrepreneurs. It was a response to revelations of mass data collection, and the latest devices build on that. Last year's phone was made by Spanish outfit Geeksphone, but since then Silent Circle has wrestled control of the brand, and this is its first home-made device. The Blackphone 2 carries similar privacy features but actually gives you a better phone, with an octa-core CPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a bigger battery and a 5.5-inch 1080p display. Meanwhile, the Blackphone+ (briefly mentioned by Silent Circle's co-founder earlier) is a privacy-focused tablet coming later in 2015. So far, there are no exact specs on the tablet (it's not ready for primetime), and there's no price on either device. Both are slated to arrive in the second half of this year, though.

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