close up of a businessman using smart phone

Tinder's swipe-able interface is such a hit, that a lot of new apps are copying it. One new, notable app among them all is called Weave, which is essentially (there's no other way to describe it) a more boring Tinder to find fellow professionals instead of Friday-night dates. In fact, it's so promising that its developers have just raised $630,000 in seed funding. If you're thinking, "But I already have LinkedIn!", well, it works a bit differently from the more traditional social network. To use the iOS or Android app, you'll need to log in using your LinkedIn credentials, after which it'll pair you with professionals in your area. Just like in Tinder, just swipe left to pass, or right to initiate a chat or express interest in meeting up.

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Out of the many trappings US carriers have in common, throttling speeds for heavy data users is certainly one of them. So, accordingly, it's not surprising for Verizon to confirm reports that it will soon start slowing things down for more customers. According to Droid Life, Verizon has admitted that, beginning in October, people with an unlimited 4G LTE data plan will see reduced speeds should they fall in the network's top five percent of internet users, among other things. More specifically, this is part of a plan Verizon is calling "Network Optimization," which means throttled speeds for anyone who consumes more than 4.7GB of data per month, is enrolled on an unlimited data plan, has fulfilled a two-year contract but is still with the carrier, and attempts to "use data on a cell site that is experiencing high demand." Chances are most of you won't be affected by this, but it's definitely not good news for others who may be.

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Well, it seems like the US cellphone unlocking bill didn't get held up legislation after all: the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act just passed through the House of Representatives with unanimous support. The measure reverses the 2012 decision that made phone unlocking a violation of copyright law and frees consumers from the mercy of their cellular provider, but it's not law yet -- the bill still needs the signature of President Obama. Still, that's almost a formality: the "bulk unlock" measure portion of the legislation that caused waves in the Senate has since been removed from the bill. Its text is clean and simple: unlocks can be "initiated by the owner" of any device or "by another person at the direction of the owner" with the express purpose of connecting to the wireless network of their choice. Sounds good here.

[Image credit: Mondo3, Flickr]

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Regardless of what you may be searching for on The Pirate Bay, it wouldn't hurt to be doing so with style and ease of use. In consideration of this, the popular (and controversial) torrent-sharing property has launched a brand new mobile site, featuring a rather subtle, less clustered look that should make browsing through it a much more enjoyable experience. As TorrentFreak points out, this is the first time Pirate Bay's done a major design revamp in almost a decade, a change likely to be considered a breath of fresh air by its users, particularly those who like to use the website on devices like smartphones and tablets. The Pirate Bay doesn't appear to be redirecting all mobile visitors to the new page yet, but you can check it out here right about now.

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Now that Microsoft is rolling Windows Phone 8.1 out to handsets, users can now start chatting with its new virtual assistant, Cortana. Right now, she's limited to the US, but the Cortana man at Microsoft, Marcus Ash, has tweeted that "barring an unforeseen issue," the UK developer preview will go live in "less than two weeks" and, wait for it, not feature the reassuring tones of Jen Taylor, the original talent behind Halo's Cortana. Like Apple's Siri, Cortana will adopt a British accent when it rolls out, presumably to make owners feel more comfortable when interacting with the digital sidekick. Sure, she'll still take notes, dictate messages and offer up calendar alerts and reminders, she just won't sound like the Cortana you've relied upon during many a gaming session (unless you indulge in a bit of location trickery).

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Back in June, Google revealed Cardboard: an open-source attempt at mobile virtual reality. Heck, even the "hardware" is open source --here are instructions to make your own, right now!

But the concept is more than a low-tech solution to mobile VR. It's emblematic of Google's approach to virtual reality: use the phone that's already in your pocket. Samsung's taking the same approach later this year with Gear VR, only it's also partnering with Oculus VR on the software side.

This stands in stark contrast to the PC-dependent, ultra-high-res experience Oculus VR and Facebook are aiming to achieve. The Oculus Rift headset both literally and figuratively kickstarted the re-birth of virtual reality in modern technology. It remains the peak of technological achievement in virtual reality. And now, the medium is splintering into two distinct futures: one of entertainment, the other of immersion.

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Firefox has already shown off an Android launcher and is now trying some spiffy personalization features for its Android browser. The latest beta flaunts a new class of "panel" add-ons with home page feeds like Pocket, Wikipedia, Instagram and more. Firefox has also released a new set of APIs for those plug-ins, letting any app developer create a home screen page. I tried it out with Instagram and Pocket and found it gave me a quick way to view photo streams and articles without touching the apps. But I've got similar features with my launcher (Terrain), which seems a more logical place to put third party feeds. If you'd like to try it, it seemed stable enough during limited usage, but like any beta, the risk is all yours.

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The intrepid disassemblers over at iFixit have torn Amazon's Fire phone asunder in order to determine how repairable it is, but what did they find? At first blush, things seemed promising, with standard Torx screws holding the chassis together, but after that things started to get sticky. The battery, for instance, is attached with an adhesive tab, but the five front-facing cameras are all held in place with liberal dollops of glue. So much so, in fact, that do-it-yourself repairs are nearly impossible unless you're patient enough to melt each component out of its adhesive prison. Getting spare parts isn't ideal either, since the components share so many resources that you can't just replace one piece -- you've got to buy the lot. That's why the phone scored a measly 3 out of 10 for repairability, which is yet another reason not to buy one.

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The contactless payment feature on your bank card is ideal for speeding up minor purchases, and soon it'll be able to replace your Oyster, too. London buses have supported contactless payments for some time, and Transport for London (TfL) has today announced that come September 16th, they'll get you through the barriers at Tube, Overground and DLR stations as well. The benefit of using your bank card is you never have to top it up, and in addition to the daily cap on travel charges already in place, any method of contactless payment will also be subject to a new weekly cap (Monday to Sunday), whereby TfL figures out the cheapest possible fare for that period. You'll be able to keep track of your journey and payment history via an online account, much like you can with a registered Oyster card now. Implementing contactless payments across the wider London transport network comes after a pilot that's been running since April, but TfL are still looking for new lab rats to test the system before its formal launch.

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You're lucky if you can sleep easily and wake up feeling refreshed all the time -- some people need a bit help to get a good night's rest from apps and gizmos, like this new device called Sense. The gadget, which looks like a crystal ball with rubber bands, acts as some sort of a bedside sleep guardian that monitors not only your sleeping habits, but also environmental conditions. It comes with a "Sleep Pill" that clips to your pillow, which tracks your tosses and turns, automatically transmitting data to Sense via Bluetooth Low Energy and ANT. The gadget then relays all the info you need, including a sleep number to let you know how well (or how bad) you've slept, through the system's iPhone or Android app.

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When Amazon purchased Comixology, it was a herald of change: iOS users lost the ability to purchase comics in-app, Android users were gifted with a new purchasing system and, now,the digital book seller is going DRM-free. Sort of. Comixology CEO David Steinberger announced today that DRM-free backups of select comics are now available to download in PDF and CBZ format, giving readers the ability to enjoy their content outside of the Comixology ecosystem for the first time. That said, it's somewhat limited: backup downloads are only available to book published by Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenoscope Entertainment, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and MonkeyBrain Comics -- in other words, publishers that have already dabbled with DRM-free comic distribution.

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Apple's set-top hobby has come a long way since its major refresh in 2010, thanks largely to a variety of services bringing different content to the platform. When it comes to gaming, however, the Apple TV isn't exactly a powerhouse, despite being able to support it through AirPlay features -- something similar to what Real Racing has done in the past. Another developer that's made use of this particular second-screen kind of experience is Rolocule Games, and it just announced a new free title (with in-app purchases) dubbed Dance Party.

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Snapchat's meteoric rise made one thing abundantly clear -- the market would soon be flooded with copy cats. The next major player to try and drink Snapchat's milkshake might be Instagram. A banner introducing Bolt, a service for "one tap photo messaging," appeared at the top of the company's mobile app last night. The announcement was quickly pulled, but not before several people grabbed screenshots and started passing them around on Twitter. Unfortunately there's not much more detail to share at the moment, but the move will definitely raise a few eyebrows. For one, it would seem like a trivial feature to simply integrate into the existing Instagram app. Secondly, with Facebook's Slingshot already offering ephemeral photo and video messages, Bolt seems like a duplication of efforts. Of course, there's always the chance that Bolt will offer some truly unique twist on the format and shove pretenders to the media messaging crown aside.

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Oppo Find 7 review: A solid phone that faces stiff competition

The Galaxy S5. The One M8. The G3. Every notable player in the overcrowded smartphone space has a flagship, one heroic device that the company pins its hopes on... for a year or so, anyway. For Oppo, a Chinese phone maker whose profile has swelled thanks to a surprisingly solid phone lineup, that flagship is the Find 7: an unassuming slab that looks painfully pedestrian compared to the last time the company went all out. Maybe that's a bit harsh. The Find 7 pairs top-notch performance with one of the highest-resolution screens you'll find on a mobile today -- hardly a formula to sneeze at. But is it worth the $599 asking price? Is Oppo really a mobile force to be reckoned with? Follow me, friends, and we'll figure it out together.

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Last year we would've bet our lunch money on Vodafone being the first UK carrier to release an own-brand LTE smartphone. After all, we spotted a "Vodafone Smart 4G" picking up its roaming permit from the US communications regulator, and only a few weeks after the carrier switched on its UK LTE network. Alas, the phone was destined for other European countries and EE pipped Vodafone to the post with the launch of the 4G-friendly Kestrel. Vodafone's finally caught up, however, releasing a pair of LTE handsets under its own name: the Smart 4 power and Smart 4 turbo (left and right in the image above, respectively). The turbo is the inferior of the two, with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 4.5-inch 854 x 480 display, while the power is outfitted with a 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek processor and 5-inch 960 x 540 screen. Otherwise, both have 1GB of RAM, unspecified amounts of on-board storage (with microSD support), 5-megapixel main shooters, front-facing cameras, and run Android 4.4 KitKat.

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