Google's Android Lollipop statue

Remember the Rockstar Consortium? The group was formed by a handful of tech giants (including Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson and Sony) to buy a treasure trove of patents and promptly sue both Google and some Android partners, which promised one of the bigger legal battles in recent tech history. Well, it's not going to be as dramatic as first thought -- Google has agreed to settle its part of the lawsuit. The terms of the deal aren't available and will take a few weeks to hash out, but it's likely that Google is forking over some cash to Rockstar given that Cisco did the same earlier in November. It's also unclear if ASUS, HTC, Samsung and other manufacturers have reached their own settlements. However, it's hard to see them keeping up the fight for much longer when Google itself is out of the picture.

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Well, that was fast. Twitter casually mentioned at its Analyst Day festivities last week that it'd soon give users the ability to share public Tweets in private conversations, and now a new update to its apps and web clients means you can do just that. Either a long-press on a Tweet or a quick pop into the 'More' menu in Twitter's mobile and desktop versions respectively will let you dump that micro-missive into a Direct Message conversation, where it'll pop up in a tiny card for lightspeed perusal. We can hardly contain our excitement either.

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Square Register on an iPad mini

Square's Register app has done a lot to drag stores' payment systems into the modern era, but only in the US -- venture elsewhere and you've usually had to pay at a conventional (and often very limited) terminal. That might not hold true for much longer, since Square has just released a version of Register that works worldwide. The Android and iOS software now handles sales in 130 currencies, and communicates in French, Japanese and Spanish; if a tapas bar in Madrid wants to give you a digital receipt or ask for feedback, it can. It'll take a while for companies around the world to start using Register, but don't be surprised if you see it in action the next time you go on vacation.

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Ever since the first cloud storage services hit the web, they've been a prime destination for thousands upon thousands of uploaded photos. Unfortunately, many of those services don't have polished user interfaces that allow for easy viewing and sharing -- unless you're just a big fan of file manager-esque folders and list views. In April, Dropbox debuted Carousel, an app that seeks to solve that problem by grouping your images together by date and letting you scroll through endless years of photos and sharing your favorites with friends and family. The service was only offered on iPhones and Android smartphones until today, when Dropbox announced that it's now available for iPads and the web, with support for Android tablets coming in the coming weeks.

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AT&T

AT&T is expanding its GoPhone prepaid choices by adding a $45 tier for those who think the $60 plan's offerings are too much, and the $40's not enough. The company originally launched this option back in April, though you could only get it at Walmart. Now the $45 plan is officially listed on the company's website, and it comes with unlimited talk, text and data. In fact, even the $60 option also comes with unlimited data now, but it's not as "unlimited" as we'd all like. You only get 1GB of high-speed data for the $45 tier and 2.5GB for the $60 per month, after which AT&T will throttle your connection. Sure, it's no fun browsing the internet on speeds reaching only 128kbps, but having a connection no matter how slow beats having none at all, especially in times of emergency.

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Corning Gorilla Glass 4

Plenty of mobile device screens can easily resist minor cracks and scratches, but let's be honest -- those aren't the biggest problems. No, the real crisis comes when you drop your phone and the display shatters into many pieces. Thankfully, Corning is tackling that accident-related damage in earnest with Gorilla Glass 4. The newly formulated cover material is designed to survive collisions with rough surfaces, like the sidewalk. It's reportedly very effective, if imperfect. While conventional soda-lime glass will always break if you drop it from a meter (3.3 feet) above the ground, Gorilla Glass 4 will remain intact 80 percent of the time. You shouldn't be careless, in other words, but the added resistance could mean the difference between a costly out-of-warranty repair and carrying on with your day.

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Wintry Weather Mississippi

It's hard to fight nature. We mammals have an instinctual urge to hibernate when the mercury starts dropping, and thanks to activity trackers we have some data to prove that theory holds true (if we actually get that sleep is another story). By correlating pedometer stats culled from "hundreds of thousands" of Jawbone Up users with weather info from their respective areas, the outfit was able to discern that there's an ideal temperature range for physical activity. Because people typically have to get up and around during the work week, Jawbone instead focused its study on weekends. You know, when we have an actual choice of whether or not we're going to get off the couch.

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Free App Store Downloads Change to Get

If you're searching on either the Mac or iOS App Stores today, you might notice a little change in the way Apple labels free apps. Before, even if such an app contained costly upgrades, it would carry the label 'Free.' However, following the company's latest App Store refresh, that description will now read 'Get.' But why? Well, it likely has something to do with the pressure Apple has been under from European regulators to better protect children (and parent's bank accounts) from the shady world of in-app purchases.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon

Qualcomm is sitting pretty right now. Its Snapdragon processors and cellular chips are present in most of the big-name mobile devices you can use today, whether it's the Nexus 6 or the iPhone. However, the company isn't content to stop there -- it just confirmed plans to launch its own line of server processors. CEO Steve Mollenkopf isn't offering many details just yet, but it won't surprise you to hear that these heavy duty CPUs would be ARM-based like their mobile counterparts. There's no timing yet, either, although the exec adds that his firm is already "engaged with customers."

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Say you've thought about getting an electric vehicle but didn't want to take the plunge until you were absolutely certain that you wouldn't wind up on the side of the highway with a dead battery. It's a legitimate concern known as "range anxiety," but assuaging that problem involves either manually keeping track of everywhere you go from day to day or actually buying the car and figuring it out as you go along. The AT&T Foundry, a startup incubator tasked with coming up with clever new tech products, has designed a Heads Up Display (HUD) that may sooth the nerves of skeptical EV shoppers. The lightweight HUD can be placed inside your gas vehicle and programmed to mimic the dashboard of whatever EV model you're thinking of buying. As you go through your daily grind, you get a feel in real-time of how far you can drive before needing a recharge.

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T-Mobile logo

Calling people outside the US isn't as expensive as it used to be, but the charges can still add up; even the better deals at big American wireless carriers have you paying both a monthly rate and by the minute. T-Mobile thinks it can shake things up a bit. It just revamped its Stateside International Talk plan to offer unlimited international calling to as many as 70 countries at flat rates. You'll pay a relatively modest $5 extra per month if you only need to reach landlines, and $10 per month if your foreign friends use cellphones. And importantly, this covers every line on your account -- your kids can speak to family overseas without racking up huge bills. There are some catches (only "30+" countries qualify for unlimited mobile-to-mobile), but this could still be a solid deal if you frequently chat with people around the globe.

[Image credit: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images]

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For those times you'd rather have someone else read to you, Barnes and Noble is outfitting Android devices with an app that does just that. Nook Audiobooks taps into the retailer's library of over 50,000 titles via the aforementioned phones and tablets, accessing listener-friendly versions of works like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. If you act quickly, B&N will throw in two downloads (from a list of five pre-selected items) for free, and the app itself it available at no charge.

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Since Apple nabbed Beats earlier this year, we've been wondering what would come of the latter outfit's streaming service. Financial Times reports that the folks in Cupertino plan to lump Beats Music (or whatever it'll be called in the future) in to iOS. Yes, this means that the app will already be installed on that new iPhone or iPad when you unbox it, attempting to get a leg up on the likes of Rdio and Spotify from the jump. The report says the usual "people familiar with the matter" look for the move to happen as soon as March -- perhaps around the same time as the debut of the Apple Watch. As you might expect, you'll still need a subscription to access Dr. Dre's library of tunes, but the app itself will already be there. Of course, this could also end badly: we all remember what happened last time Apple put something on our phones we didn't want. I reached out to Apple on the matter and it declined to comment.

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It wasn't all that long ago when China's Meizu unveiled its latest phone, the MX4, but the real flagship is actually what the company announced today. As you can tell from the name, the new MX4 Pro is a beefed-up version of the earlier model, yet it's still priced very competitively and is almost just as comfortable to hold. Most notably, it has a slightly larger 5.5-inch display with a stunning 2,560 x 1,536 resolution -- a tad more than the standard 2K resolution (hence the "2K+" label), thus making this the highest screen resolution for the current smartphone market. That said, this NEGA LCD panel is apparently very power efficient, sipping just 1.05 times the power consumed by the MX4's 1,920 x 1,152 screen. Underneath that lies a Samsung octa-core processor (2GHz A15 x 4 + 1.5GHz A7 x 4) which, according to Meizu, is 20 percent more efficient than the MX4's MediaTek offering.

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Motorola Keylink

Motorola isn't done releasing small yet convenient accessories this year, apparently. It just unveiled the Keylink, a Bluetooth key fob that helps you find both your smartphone and your keys. If you lose your phone between the seat cushions, you can push a button on the Keylink to make it ring from as far as 100 feet away; if your keys disappear, you can use Motorola's Connect app to make the Keylink sound off. It plays nicely with both Android phones and iPhones, and it'll also serve as a trusted Smart Lock device if you're using Android 5.0 Lollipop -- you may never have to unlock your phone so long as your keys are nearby. The Keylink is relatively costly for a narrow-purposed device at $25, but the price might be justifiable if you periodically misplace your gear.

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