Taking a payment on a Square Reader attached to an iPhone

Consumers have been automating apps with IFTTT (If This Then That) for awhile by, say, backing up Instagram photos to Dropbox whenever they snap a photo. Now, businesses will be able to take advantage of IFTTT directly from the Square mobile payment app. For instance, rather than just yelling "Booyah!," a company can send out a company-wide congratulatory email after closing a huge deal. Similarly, a text alert can be issued to team members to follow up a customer refund -- all of which can be pre-programmed into IFTTT. It'll also work with services like Google Drive, Twitter and SMS, to name just a few. Hopefully companies won't abuse it -- we'd hate to see a tweet after buying a particularly sensitive item.

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Crossbar's resistive RAM

You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form of resistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn't just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn't fazed by heat. It's also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you'd normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD -- as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp.

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LG has just reported a record quarter for mobile phone sales, showing that it's taking advantage of a slump from arch-rival Samsung. LG sold 14.5 million handsets over the last quarter, its highest total ever and 20 percent more than last year -- with more than a third of those LTE models. It chalked up most of the success to its well-reviewed top-of-the-line G3 handset, along with strong sales of its mid-range L products. LG's mobile division scooped up KRW 3.6 trillion ($3.5 billion) and put an end to three straight quarters of losses. Home entertainment also performed well, climbing 3 percent on the strength of higher-margin UltraHD 4K sets. All that resulted in an operating profit of KRW 412 billion ($599 million) -- not nearly Samsung-level numbers, but at least LG's are going up, not down.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 (left), leaked Galaxy Alpha (right)

Many have assumed that Samsung's fabled metal smartphone would be a very high-end device, but some new leaks hint that it could be considerably more modest. Both SamMobile and Tinhte have posted photos of the Galaxy Alpha (shown on the right), a mid-range Android handset that reportedly touts a 4.7-inch screen and that long-rumored, slightly more fashionable metal trim. It's not certain exactly what's under the hood beyond LTE-Advanced data, although SamMobile suggests that the internals would slot in neatly between the Galaxy S5 and its smaller, slower mini counterpart. Alongside a previously rumored 720p screen, the Alpha would supposedly pack 32GB of (sadly non-removable) storage and either an Exynos 5 Octa or a Snapdragon 800 for a processor -- good enough, but not great.

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Google Maps' Explore feature on Android

Google quietly slipped out a big upgrade to Maps' local discovery features on iOS a couple of weeks ago, and today it's Android's turn. Once your device gets the refresh, you should see a new Explore guide that offers suggestions for things to do based on both context and your tastes; it knows not to point you to a nearby park when it's raining, and can suggest breakfast spots the night before you need them. In that sense, Google Maps could become a solid alternative to familiar location-based recommendation apps like Yelp and Foursquare. Don't be surprised if it takes some time for Explore to arrive, though. It's just starting to reach Android this week, so you may have to rely on other tools for a little while longer.

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If you've hailed an Uber ride on a Windows Phone handset, you're aware that the you were beamed to the service's mobile site rather via a full-fledged app. That changed today, as the taxi outfit returns to Microsoft's mobile OS with proper software. This means users can lock in location, call for a ride and sort payments with a properly equipped handset. Uber's app is missing a few key features though, as in-app fare quotes, sharable trip info and fare splitting are on the way soon. While that's a bit of a bummer, the new version is available now for those looking to take advantage.

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Puppy Pop on an LG G3

Are you an impulsive gamer? So impulsive that you can't even wait to unlock your phone before you start playing? If so, LG is entirely willing to cater to that (frankly disconcerting) behavior. The company has just launched Puppy Pop, the first game designed to work with the G3's QuickCircle case. It's a clever demo of what that round case window allows, although it's only a game in the loosest sense of the word. All you're doing is matching as many puppy heads as you can before time runs out -- it might do for a quick diversion at the bus stop, but it's not hard to see this wearing thin over time. You can grab the app today if you're curious, although you might want to wait for more substantial titles down the road -- or better yet, unlock your G3 and make full use of the phone you paid for.

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To celebrate the start of Comic-Con tomorrow in San Diego, Marvel is kicking off a promotion that provides an all-you-can-have pass to its entire digital library for less than a dollar. There are a few caveats, as expected, but not enough to make the offer seem any less attractive. According to Wired, Marvel Unlimited, which is home to more than 13,000 comics, can be accessed over the next week with a simple payment of 99 cents. The deal will only give you an in to the service for one month, but the renowned publisher is hoping that's plenty of time to keep you locked in beyond said period.

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Whether you're looking to replace your laptop or just find something to keep you entertained, there's a tablet out there to suit you. But with an ever-increasing array of slates crowding the market, narrowing down the list can be a chore. So we've sorted through the pile and picked out some of our favorites for both power users and media consumers. Our complete buyer's guide is always just a few clicks away, but feel free to cruise through the gallery below for a quick rundown of the best tablets you can buy today.

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The Foursquare faithful have had some time to get used social venue tracker's Swarm option for sorting check-ins, as the outfit jettisoned the activity to a second app. Folks who didn't want to give up the OG method were still able to tally stops, but now the redesigned search-focused software is imminent. As of tomorrow, you'll have to use Swarm for all check-ins, and Foursquare claims that about 75 percent of your fellow users have already made the leap. What's more, the company has a new logo to go along with the upcoming app that it's teasing as well. Once you pipe in info on your personal tastes, follow a few experts and make a few stops, the new Foursquare will learn about your delicate sensibilities and make recommendations based on the gathered info. However, you don't need to have Swarm installed to make use of the original app's new focus on "personalized local search." As you can see in the screenshots above, the directory will offer to hop over for a check-in -- if you've installed both applications, of course. Unfortunately, there's no date for the official arrival, but the announcement claims you'll be leveraging the tidied up ratings and tips "really soon."

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Amazon's recently announced music service for Prime members just got a bit better. Today, the giant online retailer revealed that its Prime Music library is welcoming a bunch of new songs into the mix, from artists such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Skrillex, Ella Fitzgerald, DJ Snake & Lil Jon (#TD4W, anyone?) and many, many more. To make use of these newly added tunes, Amazon said it has curated "hundreds" of fresh Prime Playlists, citing this feature as one users have come to love since the service's launch last month. Amazon will need to keep making similar moves if Prime Music is to be a threat to the likes of Spotify, so this is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. The next natural step would be expanding outside of the US, but record labels might make that a lot more complicated than it sounds.

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Whether you're a fan of Captain Kirk or Picard (we're Team Picard here), you have to admit it's apt that William Shatner is reviewing the celebrity-exclusive Facebook app -- he definitely loves some VIP prestige. The Priceline huckster gives a surprisingly in-depth feature-by-feature comparison between The Social Network's Mentions app and Pages, which everyone has access to, but not before throwing some shade toward the starship Enterprise's yellow-shirted helmsman and all-around social-media-guy George Takei. Apparently, when you first sign into Mentions you can't proceed any further until you follow one of Facebook's suggested celebrity accounts.

"The first person on the list I was given was George Takei (rolling my eyes.) I ended up choosing Robert Downey Jr. to follow and then I hid his posts (sorry Robert!)."

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With Nokia's range of Android-powered smartphones all but dead, Microsoft is pushing its newly-acquired Lumia line harder than ever. Today, it's introduced the lowest-priced Windows Phone to date, the Lumia 530, delivering middle-of-the-road specs for €85 ($114). For that, you'll get a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display, quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory (with support for 128GB microSD storage). There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the rear (no selfie camera here folks), which is controlled by Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8.1 software. That, of course, offers access to Cortana (if you're in the US), the new WordFlow swipe keyboard and a multitude of other custom Microsoft- and Nokia-crafted apps. Like its older siblings, the Lumia 530 will also come in both single and dual SIM (3G) variants and offer interchangeable back covers, which will be available in the traditional orange, green, white and dark grey colors. Microsoft's latest Lumia will go on a global tour in the near future, starting with an initial rollout in "select markets" from next month.

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NES30 retro gamepad controller

We've ripped apart knock-off gadgets more than a few times, but there are moments where a company's urge to mimic others will pay dividends. Take 8Bitdo's recently released NES30, for example: the Bluetooth gamepad recreates as much of the NES controller's design as possible while still keeping its feet planted in the modern era. The four extra buttons aren't exactly true to the 1985 original, but the overall look and button presses are reportedly faithful to what you remember. Even if it's not quite true to life, you might not mind given the very broad device support. The NES30 can talk to Android, iOS, OS X and Windows, and it can even double as a (fairly awkward-looking) Wii remote in a pinch.

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Store listings in Google Maps on the web and mobile

Google Maps already shows a wealth of info about nearby stores when you're searching for them, but ads haven't received that first-class treatment. Like it or not, that's changing; Maps on mobile and the web now shows you a whole raft of details for relevant store ads, including links to call those shops. The move is likely to prove a mixed blessing. While it will help you learn more about interesting ads and might just lead to discovering a nice restaurant, it could also downplay the importance of the actual search results -- not good if you're just trying to reach an eatery before it shuts down for the night. The odds are that the richer promotions won't hamper your day-to-day navigation in a significant way, but you'll want to keep an eye out for that yellow "ad" icon the next time you're tracking down some sushi.

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