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While Canada is the brunt of countless jokes, it seems like our friendly neighbors to the north have the last laugh this time. At least when it comes to playing SimCity on the go, that is. The folks at EA have recently soft-launched SimCity BuildIt on Android, and like so many other mobile games it won't cost a dime to download. Of course, once you start shelling out for in-app purchases that'll change in an instant. Why the lack of fanfare? Well, the last game in the series didn't fare so well at the outset or for awhile afterward, so that might have something to do with it. Android Community says that despite expectations, however, it isn't a mobile port of the PC title. Instead, it's apparently more along the lines of a typical Android city builder, just with a SimCity coat of paint. We've embedded a gameplay video after the break so you can judge for yourself.

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The Yahoo! Billboard, San Francisco

Yahoo has just released a new Mail update for iOS and Android that integrates event and travel notifications within the app... whoa wait, why does that sound familiar? Another tech company with a name that starts with a G might have announced something similar earlier, but we're not entirely sure (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Kidding aside, the Today section in the Yahoo Mail app can now tell you if your flight's been delayed or canceled and give you directions to the airport: you can even call the airline or go straight to its website if you need to rebook, right from the app. When you visit a new area, you'll automatically get restaurant and attraction suggestions, replete with their Yelp reviews. Finally, if you're attending an Evite, Eventbrite or Ticketmaster event, the app will show you its details, along with directions on how to get to there. The update's already out on both iTunes and Google Play, but (unfortunately for most countries around the globe) the features are only available in the US for now.

[Image credit: Scott Schiller/Flickr]

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A group of developers thought it would be fun to merge playground activities with mobile gaming -- so they did. They've created a system called Hybrid Play that lets kids (or adults, no judgment here) control games on their phones with see-saws, swing sets and other playground toys. To transform these outdoor playsets into big controllers, kids will have to clip the Hybrid Play sensor (above) onto their slides and merry-go-rounds. This sensor (which is dust- impact- and water-resistant) is powered by an Arduino microcontoller and equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes, infrared and Bluetooth. It transforms real-life movements into signals sent to your phone, which the app then converts into virtual action. By the way, the system's iOS and Android apps will come loaded with a selection of games to choose from, but everyone can make their own, as it's an open-source project.

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Ford's Pre-Collision Assist in testing

Automakers like Subaru and Volvo have had automatic anti-collision braking for a while, but what if you're a Ford fan? You won't have to wait long. The Blue Oval has revealed that it's adding its own smart braking system (Pre-Collision Assist) as an option for new cars, starting with the 2015 Mondeo sedan's launch in Europe this year. The technology is familiar, but it should be enough to prevent or mitigate collisions during the daytime. A combination of a camera and radar helps recognize upcoming cars and pedestrians; the vehicle will warn you about potential accidents, and will also brake as much as necessary if it believes you're in imminent danger. While the assistant isn't a true substitute for a keen eye and quick reflexes -- at least, not right now -- it's good to have that additional safety net.

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Denon Heos 5 and Sonos Play:5 speakers

If you thought Denon's Heos wireless speakers were a little too similar in purpose to Sonos' range, you're not alone. Sonos has sued D&M Holdings (the company that owns Denon) for allegedly violating "at least" four patents. The audio gear maker accuses the Denon team of making "little to no effort" to distinguish its speakers -- while they look different and have more inputs, the core concept is supposedly the same. Sonos says it's only asking for Denon to come up with "new ideas," and won't chase after royalties if the two sides can reach an agreement. It's not clear whether or not Denon plans to fight back, but it tells VentureBeat that it takes the lawsuit "very seriously" and will have a full response soon.

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If you've ever wanted to cobble together a really wicked EDM track comprised mostly of sound bites from NASA's Mercury missions, well, now's your chance. Everyone's favorite beleaguered space agency has been posting a treasure trove of audio clips that span the space age to its SoundCloud account (just in time to post them in form of Twitter's new Audio Cards), and they're really worth a listen.

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IFixit pries open the iPad Air 2

It's safe to say that you don't buy most Apple devices these days with the expectation that you can open them up, and it looks like the iPad Air 2 is no exception. Do-it-yourself repair shop iFixit has torn down the new tablet and found that it's even tougher (or at least, more expensive) to fix than its predecessor in a few respects. That bonded display may be great for cutting back on reflections, but it increases the risk of breaking the panel when you're prying things open -- and it'll cost more to replace if you do break it, since you can't separate the glass from the LCD. Problems from last year persist, too, such as the use of glue to hold seemingly everything together instead of clips or screws. Another change from its predecessor is the battery -- the 27.62 Wh unit is smaller than the original Air's 32.9 Wh capacity, although a more efficient design should keep battery life close between the two. Is any of this a deal breaker if you're set on getting an extra-slim iPad? Probably not, but it's something to consider if you normally prefer to fix gadgets at home instead of taking them back to the store.

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So, you put in for the time off from work to hit December's PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas. The next logical step, of course, is buying tickets and come Friday you can do just that. As previously reported, a single day pass will set you back $50, and it's $90 for a two-day ticket to get in Sin City's Venetian Hotel. In a video on the PlayStation Blog, the outfit touts some "400,000 square feet of PlayStation" will be open to the public in addition to showing brief snippets of footage from The Order: 1866 and what looks like the follow-up to Dark Souls, Bloodborne. So those are likely two of the games you'll get some hands-on time with if you attend. What else is going on there? Panels with developers and Sony employees and such, including Capcom's Yoshinori Ono, who's perhaps best known for his work on the Street Fighter series. Feel like playing gumshoe for more clues? The teaser clip below should provide ample opportunities.

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Xbox Music on a Surface tablet

If you're hooked on Xbox Music's free desktop-based listening, you're going to have make some backup plans very shortly. Microsoft has announced that it's dropping the no-cost web and Windows streaming option as of December 1st; after that, you'll have to pay for a Music Pass if you want all-you-can-eat tunes beyond the 30-day trial period. The company claims that it's refocusing Xbox Music to make it the "ultimate music purchase and subscription service," although it's not elaborating on what that entails. Suffice it to say that Microsoft has a lot of competition in the free music space. Its main rival, Spotify, has over 30 million free users worldwide on a wider range of platforms -- it wouldn't be easy for Microsoft to challenge that lead using the free tier you know today.

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Xiaomi's a force to be reckoned with in China -- its new phones routinely sell out online in seconds -- but its influence is steadily growing outside its native home. That's why the company's infrastructure has been quietly shifting these past few months, and VP/former Googler Hugo Barra pulled back the curtain on what Xiaomi's been up to. Long story short: it's moving user data around the world, not only to make sure its services work better, but also to better protect its users' information.

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