Phones4u Store

Less than two weeks ago, we remarked that things were looking tough for Phones4u. Today, it looks as though the company no longer has a future. After Vodafone said it was dropping its partnership deal with the company to go all in with Dixons Carphone, EE, the biggest carrier in the UK, has done what it threatened to do earlier in the year and announced it too is going alone. In a statement, Phones4u said that EE has decided not to renew its current contract, which expires in just over a year, leaving the company with no other choice than to call in the administrators. "The unexpected decisions by both Vodafone and EE have come as a complete shock to the business," it noted, adding that it'll honour existing contracts (no word on iPhone 6 pre-orders) but close stores while it assesses its options.

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Glympse Keyboard for Android

It's not hard to share your whereabouts from your phone, but you usually have to dive into specific apps to do it; what if your friends on a new social network want to know that you're nearby? That's when Glympse's new Keyboard app for Android may come to the rescue. So long as you have the regular Glympse on your phone, the input method lets you share your location through virtually any app. If there's a text box, you can probably let others know where you are. You don't have to give up keyboards like SwiftKey or Swype, either, since there's a Quick Send mode that gets out of your way as soon as you're done. Glympse Keyboard isn't going to be as sophisticated as apps that have position sharing built-in, but its sheer ubiquity could help the next time you're meeting your friends for a night on the town.

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Some places have lanes for bicycles, others for motorcycles, but there's a place in mainland China that boasts a different type of lane altogether: one for phone addicts glued to their screens. According to a Chinese publication, the cellphone lane above was spotted along a place called Foreigner Street in Chongqing city, one of the five major cities in the country. The sidewalk was most likely painted on for everyone's safety, because, hey, if there's distracted driving, there's also distracted walking, as perfectly demonstrated by the woman in this video. If the idea sounds familiar, it's because the National Geographic did something similar back in July as an experiment. The society stenciled "NO CELLPHONES" on one-half of a DC sidewalk and "CELLPHONES: WALK IN THIS LANE AT YOUR OWN RISK" on the other half. The result? Well, among other things, they found that the people actually glued to their phones didn't even notice the markings at all. Typical.

[Image credit: News.cn]

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"The sharing economy" is a buzzword that's thrown around to talk about services like AirBnB and Lyft, and now it looks as if Toyota wants in on the trend. The automaker is putting 70 electric cars into commission in France, half of them being i-Road EVs, as spotted by Gizmodo. Instead of competing with the existing public transit system that's in place, however, Toyota says this will work alongside the city of Grenoble's infrastructure making the likes of one-way trips, among other things, easier. So long as there's a drop-off station near your destination, there's no need to worry about parking or a return trip, either, apparently. Reserving a ride can be handled with a smartphone app and rental fees start at €3 (about $4) -- cheaper than minimum fare on Uber. In the land of baguette and interested? Service starts in October.

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Apple made a pretty big deal about WiFi calling at its event this week, but if you preordered an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus running on AT&T today, you won't be able to use it right out of the box. That feature, according to LightReading, won't be available until next year. The carrier's Ralph de la Vega says the delay is because he wants to make sure that actually using the tech is a good experience for customers and doesn't result in annoyances like, say, dropped calls when switching from WiFi to mobile data. T-Mobile believes it's sidestepping that by giving every customer a router that prioritizes voice calls -- something that AT&T apparently doesn't need to do because it doesn't share the magenta network's coverage issues. De la Vega says he sees the tech not as a replacement for voice over LTE and 3G, but a complement. Shots fired?

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Need to hear more from Tim Cook after this week's new iPhone and Watch event? Charlie Rose will air a two-part interview with the Apple CEO tonight and Monday, and excerpts posted to YouTube point to a few popular topics about the company. Cook discusses his company's purchase of Beats by pointing out the brand Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre were able to build, and their recognition of the human element in putting together playlists. In another clip, he continues the longstanding tradition of pointing out how ancient and backwards the TV experience still is, and that Apple is interested in it (we'll reference our advice from 2012 on how to handle these rumors) -- without revealing anything about plans to actually enter the market or adjust the approach of its Apple TV box. You can view the clips embedded after the break, and the first part of the interview tonight (likely at 11PM) on your local PBS affiliate.

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What if you didn't have worry about people seeing that picture or video you post after 24 hours? That's just what Tiiny, the latest effort from Digg co-founder Kevin Rose, offers: disappearing thumbnail-sized images and vids in a constantly refreshing grid. Snapshots and footage from your pals appear there and they can't be resized to judge fine details. In theory, this means that you'll be a lot more forthcoming about your activities since there's a lack of permanence and reduced pressure to add the proper filters. So, in addition to the ephemeral nature that the likes of Snapchat and others offer, there's the compact stature, too. There's also a Popular page, so you can see what's getting the most love across all Tiiny users. If you're looking to give it a shot, the iOS app is available now.

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All Access public playlists ain't nothin' to mess with

You may remember that Google Play Music All Access on Android briefly got public playlist searching back in August, only to lose the option a short while later. Well, it's back -- and this time, it appears to be here to stay. Much like Spotify, the update Play Music app now lets you find others' carefully curated mixes and stream them on the spot. If you need a ready-made party playlist or just want to find out what your friends are listening to, you only have to visit the playlists section and start typing. The feature may take a while to hit your phone, but Android Police has a download if you can't wait to check out others' tastes in tunes.

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When it comes to wearables, fashion trumps function. That's the mantra Motorola went by when it designed and developed the Moto 360, and judging by the enthusiastic response the watch received when it was unveiled earlier this year, plenty of people agree. The Moto 360 is undoubtedly the best-looking of the three inaugural Android Wear watches (the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live are the other two), with its premium leather strap, chamfered glass and circular design. As Motorola designer Jim Wicks said in an interview, "We wanted to hit that 'Whoa!' mark." And so it did. But is that enough? In the past few days, I struggled to like this watch, even though it's the best Android Wear device available today. Allow me to tell you why.

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Admittedly there are some things better said with a GIF than with words. But the folks behind PopKey seem to think that everything can be said better with a short looped animation. The app is a custom keyboard for iOS 8 that swaps letters and numbers for your favorite reaction GIFs. Did your friend say something stupid? Why tell him he's an idiot with old fashioned words when Scar can do it so much better. Once it's available you'll be able to bring up PopKey simply by tapping the globe icon in the bottom of your iOS keyboard. Then you can choose from a host of hand-selected GIFs or even upload your own for a custom keyboard. You can browse your options either as images, or search by keywords like "clapping" or "facepalm." You will have to long press the image you want, then long press in the iMessage window to paste your GIF of choice, but it's definitely a lot quicker then firing up Safari, doing a Google image search, finding what you want, copying that, then opening your text message to reply. Sadly (or thankfully, depending on your perspective) there's no word on when PopKey will launch just yet, but you can sign up to be notified at the website.

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On a page for iOS 8's Continuity offering, Apple updated the section about SMS/MMS messaging to state that the feature won't arrive when the new OS does on the 17th. Back at WWDC, the folks in Cupertino touted the new tool that would allow users to send texts and make calls from an iPad or Mac, but now it looks like the messaging bit it won't go live until next month. Of course, OS X Yosemite is scheduled to arrive sometime this fall, and it's quite possible you'll be able to leverage Continuity's texting by the time the desktop software starts to roll out. Apple doesn't have the best track record for releasing cloud-based features though, as we saw with MobileMe's issues in 2008, so we'll let it take some time to work out the kinks.

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We've seen LG flaunting the self-healing coating on its rather peculiar G Flex, but wouldn't it be nice to have this on other phones? Well, Innerexile's Hydra plastic case for the iPhone 6 offers a similar feature. We say "similar," because the hard yet resilient Hydra is apparently able to recover from a heavier bronze brush scratch test -- 1kg instead of the G Flex's 750g -- as well as strong bending in the lab. I received a couple of samples to play with and while I don't have the same testing equipment, I can still attest to the cases' impressive build quality, glossy finish and flexural strength -- as shown in my hands-on video after the break. But as with the G Flex, the Hydra's patented self-healing coating is meant for light scratches only.

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Samsung usually keeps its design team busy with the Galaxy S and Note ranges, but clearly they had some extra time to kill this year. One side project turned out to be the Galaxy Alpha, a sleek 4.7-inch number with the kind of premium build quality Samsung reserves for only its top handsets. It even gives the flagship Galaxy S5 something to worry about, with a slim profile, aluminium frame and some of the more notable specs including a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 12MP camera. If the compact and classy device is something you've been keeping an eye out for, then you'll be pleased to hear it launches in the UK today (on iPhone preorder day, no less), and we've got the skinny on where you can snag one.

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General Sony Images And Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai Earnings News Conference

Sony's not making PCs any more. It recently announced it wouldn't be making new e-readers, either. The company's also taking a long hard look at the TV business that it dominated for decades. In the '90s, its TVs stood up alongside the Discman, Walkman and even that new games console that could play CDs. Sony was cool; it had cachet. But a narrow focus on proprietary technology and its slowness to adapt to the dizzying speed of consumer tech in the last two decades have taken their toll. While it's created a new department solely dedicated to making the next big thing, it remains to be seen if the company can bounce back from decades of failures.

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When it comes to Android crapware, AT&T's light-touch policy means that the new Moto X is already offering a close-to-stock experience. If, however, you want to be doubly sure that you're only getting what God Motorola intended, then the Pure Edition is likely to be the device for you. According to The Verge, the phone company will offer its homegrown equivalent to a Google Play Edition device on its store towards the second half of this month. Is it true? Probably, but that doesn't mean that we haven't reached out to the company for more information, and will update this to let you know what we find out.

Update: Motorola have confirmed that the Moto X - Pure Edition will be coming, but declined to mention when it'd be arriving.

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