AP Technology NewsBrief at 2:54 p.m. EDT
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Google tweaks Plus social network for ease of useNEW YORK (AP) _ Google is tweaking its social network, Google Plus, to make it easier to use and to distinguish it from rival Facebook. The most visible change is a new navigation ribbon on the left side of the Google Plus page with icons for the most used features, such as games, photos and your personal profile. Hover over an icon to do specific tasks, such as add photos from your phone or an online album.
Verizon Wireless to charge for phone upgradesVerizon Wireless, the country's largest cellphone company, says it will start charging $30 every time a subscriber wants to upgrade to a new phone. Other phone companies have introduced similar fees. Competitor AT&T Inc. raised its fee from $18 to $36 this year.
US sues Apple, publishers over e-book pricesWASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department and 15 states sued Apple Inc. and major book publishers Wednesday, alleging a conspiracy to raise the price of electronic books they said cost consumers more than $100 million in the past two years by adding $2 to $5 to the price of each e-book. Attorney General Eric Holder said executives at the highest levels of the companies conspired to eliminate competition among e-book sellers. Justice's antitrust chief Sharis Pozen said the executives were desperate to get Amazon.com, marketer of the Kindle e-book reader, to raise the $9.99 price point it had set for the most popular titles, which was substantially below their hardcover prices.
Loyal Instagram users fret about Facebook's reachNEW YORK (AP) _ Poor Instagram users. First, their beloved photo-sharing application moves from iPhone-only exclusivity to the Android phone masses. A week later, Facebook swallows up the tiny startup behind the app for $1 billion. The purchase sparked worries that Facebook might shutter Instagram or change it for the worse by harvesting their personal information or shoving ads into their carefully curated photo streams.
Kutcher invests in flat fee tech startup DwollaDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Actor Ashton Kutcher is among the early investors in Dwolla, an Iowa tech startup that lets users transfer money or pay for things through their smartphones or online for a flat fee of 25 cents per transaction. The "Two and a Half Men" star didn't disclose the size of the investment his venture capital company made in Dwolla, which is hoping to lure customers seeking an alternative to the percentage-based fees typical of credit card purchases and other online payment methods.
'Battleship' leads attack of game-based moviesLOS ANGELES (AP) _ "Battleship" steams into movie theaters overseas this week, giving international audiences the first chance to decide whether a board game-based movie is sea-worthy. The Hasbro Inc. search-and-destroy game was once a way for kids to while away a summer afternoon. But as it debuts in Europe on Wednesday, "Battleship" the movie has become a potential franchise, sporting Michael Bay-inspired special effects, aliens invading Earth, a bikini-model actress, superstar Rihanna and, of course, lots of guns.
Nokia lowers profit outlook, shares nosediveHELSINKI (AP) _ Nokia Corp. saw its share price plummet 14 percent on Wednesday after it warned that heavy competition will hit its first-quarter earnings, especially in developing markets, and that it expected no improvement in the second quarter. The world's largest cell phone maker said multiple factors had hurt sales, particularly in the fast-growing markets of India, the Middle East and Africa and China.
Apple market value hits $600BNEW YORK (AP) _ Apple, already the world's most valuable company, hit the $600 billion level for the first time Tuesday. Only one other company has been worth $600 billion _ Apple's old sparring partner Microsoft Corp. It reached that valuation for 13 trading days around the turn of the millennium, at the peak of the technology stock mania.
Wireless providers to disable stolen phonesWASHINGTON (AP) _ Major wireless service companies have agreed to disable cellphones after they are reported stolen under a strategy intended to deter the theft and resale of wireless devices. The system announced Tuesday relies on a centralized database that will enable providers to recognize when a phone has been reported as stolen and prevent it from being used again.
5 more minutes? New clock answers resounding 'no'HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) _ There is no snooze button. If you unplug it, a battery takes over. As wake-up time approaches, you cannot reset the alarm time. It could be the world's most exasperating alarm clock.
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