Monday, June 29, 2015

PayPal Backtracks on Robocalls Amidst FCC Complaints

Following recent reports that PayPal's new user agreement would allow the company to send all of its users automated (robocalls) and texts the company has today announced it’s plans to amend the User Agreement once again to clarify the language it uses to communicate to customers how the company is allowed to contact them.

PayPal had recently faced several complaints for customers and consumer advocacy groups following media reports of a change to PayPal’s terms. Rather vague language found in an update to the User Agreement, which was originally set to go live on July 1st, seemed to indicate that the company would be allowed to robocall and text users on any number it could obtain – not just the one associated with a PayPal account – and for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to marketing.

Following these reports several advocacy groups reached out the the FCC voicing their concerns. In turn this prompted the FCC to respond with a warning voicing concerns that PayPal’s updated user agreement may be in violation of federal law. One issue, according to the FCC, is that consenting to robocalls cannot be a condition of using PayPal’s service. In addition, customers must provide prior written consent before receiving robocalls, they must be able to opt out, and if they choose to consent, they must be able to specify which phone number they’re agreeing to be contacted on by PayPal.

Opting to heed the FCC's warning and avoid potential penalties of up to $16,000 per call or text message, PayPal decided to remove the vague language from the newest User Agreement and has  published a blog post apologizing to consumers for the confusion. The company says it’s now modifying the disputed section (1.10) of the User Agreement to clarify that PayPal “primarily” uses autodialed or prerecorded calls and texts for the following purposes:
  • Help detect, investigate and protect PayPal customers from fraud
  • Provide notices to  customers regarding their accounts or account activity
  • Collect a debt owed to PayPal
In addition the new Sections (1.10(a) and 1.10(b)) will make it clear that:
  •  PayPal will not use autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts to contact our customers for marketing purposes without prior express written consent
  • Customers can continue to enjoy our products and services without needing to consent to receive autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts
  • We [PayPal] respect our customers’ communications preferences and recognize that their consent is required for certain autodialed and prerecorded calls and texts. Customers may revoke consent to receive these communications by contacting PayPal customer support and informing us of their preferences.
PayPal today says it’s clarifying the agreement’s terms, which should satisfy the FCC. The company added it worked with regulators on the new language, so it’s not likely there will be further issues. In addition to post linked above, PayPal also states they will be emailing all of their customers fully detailing the new change and allowing them the chance to provide further feedback.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Google Now Offers Free Ad Supported Version of Google Play Music

The streaming music wars have certainly heated up lately and with Apple jumping into the game we are seeing some of our traditional favorites scrambling to create more enticing offers in hopes to keep their edge and keep some of their users from defecting to Apple's new offering. Today Google has announced that they will be upping the ante on their end with a new free version of Google Play Music.


Billed as 'music for everything you do", this new ad supported version of Google Play Music will work much like most of your favorite streaming services out there. The service will utilize Radio stations that are curated by music experts — including staffers from Songza — giving you the option to browse stations by genre, mood, decade or activity or by artist, song or album.You’ll also get ad-free, offline and background features for music videos on YouTube. And with or without a subscription, you can store and play up to 50,000 songs from your own collection for free.

Google says the ad-supported version is intended to help expose consumers to its service, with the goal of converting users to the paid version so they can access content offline, create their own playlists and, of course, stream music without interruption. The upgraded version runs at $9.99 a month. For the cost of the paid subscription users will have access to other features such as skipping ads, listening to music offline, creating playlists and perusing the library of 30 million songs. Subscribers also get early access to YouTube's subscription service.

The new free, ad-supported version of Google Play Music is launching first in the U.S. It’s available on the web today, and is rolling out this week to Android and iOS.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Apple Creates New App to Help Android Defectors Migrate to iOS

For the average consumer the thought of having to change from one smartphone operating system to another an be a bit much. We are all creatures of habit and typically like to stick to the things we know and are most comfortable with. Over the past couple years smartphone manufactures have looked for new ways to break that cycle by making it easier for you to take the leap and move from one OS platform to another.

Android device owners have options like Samsung's Smart Switch, Motorola's Migrate app and even a site setup by Google specifically for Android Switchers. What about those defecting to Apple and iOS you may ask. Until now there have been few options and most of those have required a bit more manual work than most would like. That is changing however thanks to a new app developed by Apple that promises to make the move between Android and iOS a bit easier.

Announced as part of the iOS 9 preview page which followed Apple's iOS 9 WWDC announcement, Move to iOS will allow users to easily transfer their data from almost any Android phone to iOS.

Move to iOS is an Android app that installs on your current Android phone and will allow you to migrate most (if not all) of you data from your current Android phone to your new iPhone running Apple's operating system, iOS. This will include, contacts, message history, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, wallpapers and more. All of this is done through wireless transfer, so you don't have to connect the two smartphones with a cable.

"Just download the Move to iOS app to wirelessly switch from your Android device to your new iOS device," Apple wrote. "It securely transfers your contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free songs and books. And it will help you rebuild your app library, too. Any free apps you used -- like Facebook and Twitter -- are suggested for download from the App Store. And your paid apps are added to your iTunes Wish List."

Unfortunately much Samsung's Smart Switch app there will be some limitations. It is likely that Move to iOS will not allow for app data to be moved, that typically isn't possible between the two platforms, so you'll need to make sure you have any data saved to the game or app's servers before switching. You also will not be able to transfer any files that have DRM protection like certain songs, movies or e-Books.

So far Apple hasn't gone into great details on which versions of Android will be supported or whether or not any older versions of iOS or iPhones will be supported, but "Move to iOS" will presumably be available on the Play Store later this year so you can download it on your Android device.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Steam's Summer Sale Coming June 11-21th Plan Your Buys Now!

Often considered one of the hottest gaming sales of the year, the Steam Summer Sale is reportedly going to kick off a bit early this year. According to reports and leaked emails sent from PayPal, gamers will only have to wait a couple more days to get major discounts on some of their favorite game titles!

Steam Sale 2015

For those that remember, last year we saw Steam change things up a bit by featuring several different kinds of sales, including daily deals, that changed every 24 hours, flash sales, which were only live every eight hours, and community picked games which also involved community participation to help keeps fan engaged and checking back with the site.

During the community involvement phase gamers got to vote on two sets of games, and earn trading cards along the way. You could also earn a Summer Adventure badge by earning special trading cards you can get from voting, as well as trading in the Community Market, crafting badges, or buying more games.

As of right now it is uncertain how many of these aspects we'll see this year or if we'll see Steam doing something else new and different. One thing is for certain though, you can expect to see some great offers! We shared several tips for getting the best of the best deals in our Steam Summer Sale 2014 post so be sure to check those out. For good measure we'll add a couple additional tips below.

  • Wishlist, Wishlist, Wishlist!: One of the biggest tips from every Steam Sale is use your wishlist to get the best deals! Adding games, even those not on sale, will trigger notifications when they do go on sale. So build that list now and then you can sit back and watch the sales for other games you might be interested in but weren't targeting.
  • Team up with your gaming friends: Organize a few group buys, Steam Sales are usually a great time to get big discounts on multiplayer games. Even more so with friends. In the past we've seen scenarios where buying four copies resulted in one being free, making this the opportune moment to get your multiplayer fix cheaper if you bring friends along.
  • Watch the clock and time your buys: If you see a game you want on sale check the details out on the game's page and see how long the deal lasts. If it is a daily wait until later in the day to buy. Often times you may see that same game go on a flash sale. Just try to avoid the last minute rush.
  • Check in as often as possible: Keep a close eye on the Steam home page, you never know when you might have missed a deal and it will suddenly be a hot ticket item on the home page. Additionally, until we know the details of the types of sales Steam will offer, we don't know if they might slip in an occasion 'hidden deal' or not..you never know!

One final tip, and this should really go without saying, don't feel like you need to wait for the sale to make your purchases. Steam and other sites already have some great everyday deals that can be had with a little side work. Sure the sale offers a ton of great deals all in one place without having to do that work, but that doesn't mean better deals can't be found. Finally, have fun and happy shopping...that is what gaming and sales are all about right!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Looking For A Geeky Father's Day Gift Idea?

Father's day is just right around the corner and we don't know a single dad that doesn't appreciate a cool geeky gift to help him celebrate his day! This year instead of that geeked out shirt or tie why not get dad something cool like an Intel 2 in 1 device that he can use everyday...heck he might even let you use it too!

Intel 2in1 devices offer dad's the best of both worlds, they get all the power and performance of a laptop in lightweight portable device that double as a tablet. This makes them the perfect companion, and gift idea, as dad can take it along just about anywhere like out to the game or to the driving range and still use it for work or at home to fill his multitasking power app needs.


Here are a couple Intel 2 in 1 suggestions we recommend checking out:

    ASUS Transformer Book TP500LA-DS51T: The Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500LA-DS51T Tablet comes with 500 GB of hard disk and runs with 8GB of memory ensuring quickness and reliability. With a 15.6" screen and the latest in Intel Core i5 processing power dad can enjoy smooth, rich, and detailed sounds in music, movies, voice, and even gaming.
    Lenovo Yoga 3 (11 inch): For dads that like a more compact design the 11" Yoga 3 fills the bill. Starting at a mere 2.6 lbs and just 0.6" thin, the Yoga 3 is ultraportable — it’s perfect for dads on the go.
    Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 Special Edition: For that dad that needs something that really packs a punch the Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 Special Edition is it. This Intel 2in1 combines tablet mobility and laptop performance by offering up a 5th Generation Intel Core i7-5500U Processor and 8GBs of RAM, meaning it will handle just about anything your dad can throw at it and more!

As you can see from our recommendations there are several great options to choose from. To help you find the best option for you we suggest checking out Intel's 2in1 site where you can get a quick side by side view of all of the latest offerings from ASUS, Dell Acer, Lenovo, HP and more!


#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel This could include Intel providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Comcast Outage Credit Request Now Live, Sign-Up to Get Your $5!

Service outages are always frustrating and even more so in today's always connected world. It seems like you can't get anything done once your internet is down. This past week Comcast was hit with a major outage that affected customers all across the western US.

Comcast explained the outage as a hardware failure that impacted Domain Name System (DNS) traffic causing many customers to experience service interruptions. Essentially customers trying to reach websites couldn't because Comcast's servers couldn't resolve the domain names and point the website request to the appropriate location.

We understand that interruptions like those experienced by our customers in California, Washington State and Tucson, Arizona are frustrating. We would like to make it right by offering you a $5 credit.

For some of those impacted Comcast has already started reaching out and offering a $5 credit for the interruption. For others you can sign-up to request your billing credit here, you'll need to use the original account holders name and either the phone number associated with the account of the account number. According to the terms you must also make sure you submit your request before 6/11/2015 so make sure you get it done ASAP.

This $5 credit offer is being extended to Comcast customers with active XFINITY Internet service in California, Washington State, and Tucson, Arizona who were affected by the issue with our DNS servers that was first reported on 6/1/15. This request form is for our residential customers only. Comcast says it will take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks for the credit to be posted to your Comcast account and you should receive an email informing you of the status of your credit request within 10 business days of submitting your request.

$5 doesn't seem like much for someone like myself that relies so heavily on the internet to get things done. However, a little something is always better than a whole lot of nothing!! 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Google Aims at Taking Control of All of Your Connected Devices With Project Brillo

Like it or not connect devices are here to stay. In the past few years we have seen everything from small appliances to thermostats and lights being connected to create the ever widening world of the Internet of Things (IoT). Unfortunately connecting this myriad of devices are several different systems (both operating systems and applications) and standards. Making it hard to get things to work together.

Enter Google and Project Brillo, a newly announced version of Android that has been slimmed down and optimized specifically for manufactures to give you a uniform experiences across all your Internet-connected home and geek gadgets.

Brillo is "derived from Android [and] lets developers and manufacturers build connected devices," Google said. "As part of Brillo, we're introducing a communications protocol (Weave) developed in partnership with Nest, a set of developer APIs, a core set of schemas, and a certification program to ensure device and app interoperability."

The approach from Google is a simple one, there are now more than one billion Android users worldwide with Android being featured on more than 4,000 unique devices, from more than 400 manufacturers and over 500 carriers. With that, according to Gartner, IoT products are expected to boom over the next several years with more than 25 billion connected devices expected to be in use in homes and at work by 2020. 

With Project Brillo Google wants to ensure that geeks and gadget lovers everywhere have a more simplified user experience by taking control of the operating system is at the heart of each and every one of those devices.

"Our day-to-day lives will be much simpler when these technologies can talk to each other—if our recipe app, for example, could communicate with our smart oven to turn the temperature to exactly the right setting," Google said in a blog post. "​Or outside the home—from transportation systems that notify commuters of schedule changes, to farms where harvesters and irrigation systems are controlled from phones."

Brillo launches in the third quarter, while its corresponding IoT language – called Weave – is slated for Q4.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Twitter Finally Makes Popular Live Streaming App Periscope Available On Android

For some time now you've likely heard of the rising popularity of the live streaming app Periscope, which until today was an iOS exclusive.  Finally after months of hearing how great the app is, us Android Geeks finally get to take it for a spin!

Today's release of the Android version comes roughly two months after the iOS version, which has shown to be very popular with more than one million users joining Periscope in its first 10 days on the iPhone app store.The app has quickly become a go-to of sorts for Twitter users, celebrities, and those citizen journalist out there that want to be seen and heard.

For those unfamiliar with the app it offers a couple of basic functions with the main concept of Periscope being the ability to allow viewers and broadcasters to virtually connect anywhere in the world. The app provides the opportunity for those wanting to broadcast to share their experience with others, be it something personal, newsworthy or whatever. With the simple press of a button, broadcasters connect and instantly notify followers that they are live allowing them to view video streams.

For viewers you get the opportunity to see the world from the broadcasters POV. You essentially step into someone else’s shoes, following along with whatever might be happening at the moment. On Periscope, viewers are also encouraged to influence the broadcaster by sending messages, and engagements to create an interactive experience.

At its core, the Android app functions the same as it does in iOS, letting you both watch and record live broadcasts on your phone, but there a couple features exclusive to this new release. The major difference Android users will notice is the addition of useful new feature called "return to broadcast," which lets those watching a stream quickly get caught up to the live action after interruptions like phone calls and text messages. Other changes are limited to UI design and greater control over app notifications.

For those Android Geeks out there that are interested Periscope is available now for download on the Google Play Store, requiring Android version 4.4 KitKat or above. Of course if you do try it out, let us know in a comment below, we'd love to see some feedback!