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Airbnb co-founder: Firm could expand beyond lodgings

Airbnb, the online service that matches travelers with homeowners or renters who want to share their homes for a period of time, might be expanding.

Speaking to The Next Web in an interview published Tuesday, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said his company doesn't believe it's "just in the business of providing accommodation," adding that Airbnb is looking at ways it can provide "more conveniences" to its customers.

Exactly how those "conveniences" will be shared, however, has yet to be determined. Blecharczyk said his company could tie in car service to get folks … Read more

With Firefox OS, Mozilla begins the $25 smartphone push

BARCELONA -- Mozilla doubled down on its bet that low-end smartphones will give Firefox OS a place in the crowded mobile market, announcing partnerships Sunday that will bring $25 smartphones to the large number of people who can't afford high-end models like Apple's iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S5 that cost hundreds of dollars.

At the Mobile World Congress here, Mozilla announced a deal with Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications that will mean Firefox OS smartphones will arrive in extremely cost-sensitive markets like India and Indonesia where people often buy phones from a bin in a store. … Read more

Google Map Maker expands to more corners of Europe

Google has opened up its Map Maker service in Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, letting people in those corners of Europe add their own contributions to Google's massive online mapping service.

Map Maker lets people contribute geographic features like roads, buildings, paths, and parks to Google Maps, a crowdsourced effort that can speed up improvements for people in an area where Google hasn't invested its own resources.

"Whether you add a biking route through Tallinn or a landmark in Vilnius, each improvement to the map will help locals and tourists alike better understand the … Read more

Firefox OS sinks its teeth into low-end smartphones

In an impressive first-year achievement, Firefox OS has found a toehold in a fiercely competitive smartphone market. The next challenge for Mozilla's browser-based mobile operating system will be to convert that toehold into a foothold.

As the struggles of BlackBerry OS, Microsoft Windows Phone, and Samsung Tizen have shown, it's extraordinarily hard to find any room in a mobile operating system market where Apple's iOS and Google's Android dominate. Yet Mozilla has managed to do just that by focusing on super-low-cost smartphones and on partnerships with carriers who want something to offer in markets where even … Read more

Mozilla revamping Firefox OS's app launcher

Firefox OS, Mozilla's smartphone operating system, is getting a new app for launching apps.

"The app integrates the contextual adaptive app search from EverythingMe with the Firefox for Android Web browser to offer users a personalized and customizable Web experience that is fun and intuitive," Mozilla said Wednesday in a blog post. The non-profit organization showed a preview of new app launcher Tuesday.

Firefox OS already used EverythingMe's software for presenting a dynamically generated array of links to Web apps.

"We are happy to expand our work together with this new product to give people … Read more

Facebook file-sharing app Pipe shifting from Flash to WebRTC

Pipe just launched a new version of its Facebook file-sharing app, illustrating that the shift away from Adobe Systems' Flash Player to Web standards is getting steadily easier.

The new Pipe app uses a newer standard called WebRTC for real-time communications on the Web, the company said Monday. That standard got its start for Skype-like video and audio chats, but it's got a data-sharing ability too. The brains of the new app run in JavaScript, the universal language of Web programming, with a boost from the AngularJS project that makes JavaScript more manageable.

Pipe lets people send files as … Read more

Reversing course, Google rejects Adobe Web publishing tech

It can be hard to say no to an idea with some merit -- especially after already saying yes.

But that's the position Google is in with an Adobe Systems technology for bringing more sophisticated, magazine-style layouts to Web publishing through a technology called CSS Regions. Google changed its mind after deciding that it was too complex and that it would hamper one of Google's top 2014 priorities, making Chrome faster on mobile devices, according to Google Chrome programmer Eric Seidel.

Adobe had been working on CSS Regions for years, developing the idea as part of its effort … Read more

Mozilla: In 2014, all your hardware belongs to us

Soon, you'll be able to get your hands on a Firefox OS tablet -- but only if you promise to develop for the fledgling operating system.

Launched last year on three smartphone models in 14 countries on major carriers such as Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom, Mozilla has partnered with hardware maker Foxconn to build tablets for Firefox OS developers in 2014, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday.

The unnamed developers' tablet is "not intended" for the average tablet owner, said Andreas Gal, Mozilla's vice president of mobile.

"The … Read more

Tablets outdo phones when closing holiday-shopping deals

When it's time to actually spend the money in the mobile-device era, tablets were used 55 percent more often than phones during Thanksgiving-day shopping.

Traffic from phones outpaced that of tablet for browsing sites, with phones accounting for 26.6 percent of visits compared with 15.3 percent for tablets, according to IBM data harvested from 800 retailers' e-commerce sites. But for purchasing, tablets were used 83 percent more often: Tablets were used for 16.5 percent of purchases compared with 9 percent for phones.

The mobile era is no longer a novelty, but the tech industry and customers … Read more

Nine capacious juice packs to consider before your next trip

I've never met anyone who is completely satisfied with the battery life of his or her mobile device. And now that the FAA has given the green light to using electronics during takeoff and landing, you'll need even a few minutes more of juice.

The good news is there's a plethora of battery packs (aka juice packs) that now offer you many ways to conveniently carry extra power with you. Following are my nine favorite juice packs that, when paired with a mobile device, are great not only for long flights, but also when you're out … Read more