28 Jul 2014

Turn your selfie Into an Emoji With The New iPhone App Imoji




By Jason Hahn at Digital Trends:


That standard set of yellow-faced emojis is so 2013. If you really want to leave your emotive mark on your text messages, consider downloading a new iPhone app called (what else) imoji, which lets you turn your selfies or other beloved images into stickers you can send to your friends.

“Imoji makes your texts more you,” the app’s website declares. The way it works is straightforward enough: Take a selfie or upload a photo of your choice, crop and edit it, and turn it into a sticker you can include in your text messages.

To be clear, imoji isn’t a standalone messaging app like WhatsApp, KakaoTalk or Line. Rather, it’s an app that links itself to the iOS iMessage app. User-created imojis can be made private or public, the latter being visible to all the app’s users, who can also search through a preexisting selection of imojis set up and shared by other users.

Imoji was tested with 100 “content creators” ahead of its official release as a free iOS app on July 24, and the app boasts thousands of stickers already. Users can expect the app to roll out more features in the future, including an Instagram-like “follow” feature, enabling users to keep up-to-date on their preferred imoji creators. Brands will eventually have the opportunity to sponsor imojis.
“Where we think things are heading is a more flexible and creative form of communication, one which adds a new dimension to a text message,” said creator Tom Smith, formerly of Apple. “We’ve designed imoji to be just that.”



Amazon Launches A 3D Printing Store With Customizable Goods




By Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch:  


Amazon has launched a new store for 3D-printed goods, which include items that can be customized to change their size, color, material and even aspects of their design. The store covers a range of types of products, including jewelry, electronics, toys and games, home decor and kitchen supplies, and items are supplied by a number of partners including Mixee, Scupteo and 3DLT.

Amazon is touting this as the debut of a new way for the ecommerce giant to offer even more specialized inventory that can better cater to specific customer tastes. “The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail – that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience,” said Amazon Marketplace Sales director Petra Schindler-Carter, in a press release announcing the new storefront.

Along with the launch of the store, Amazon is introducing a new personalization tool for customizing some of the 3D-printed designs, which opens up a widget that lets you choose from a number of basic designs, pick the color and finish of your plastic/metal material, and preview what it will look like with a 360-degree 3D preview. You can also tweak individual aspects of the design with some items, including thickness and other dimensions.

Prices on items vary, but the most affordable tend to fall into the $30 range, and they go upwards from there depending on size and material.

The introduction of the store does indeed mark a potential turning point in the sale of online goods – it means the largest online retailer in the English-speaking world is endorsing a means of direct production and selling that could change how future products are conceived and planned. One-offs and small runs are much more affordable via 3D printing, so theoretically the sky’s the limit on the range of things customers could order, provided 3D printing technology keeps evolving.

It’s worth noting that Amazon only sells a set catalogue of 3D-printed items so far – it hasn’t yet offered a way for customers to upload their own design and have them printed as does Shapeways, for instance. Amazon likely wants to maintain some kind of quality control and not have to concern themselves with educating customers about the ins and outs of 3D printing custom designs, however – and this doesn’t necessarily mean that refinements in the process wouldn’t open the door to this kind of thing in the future.

25 Jul 2014

Google Launches Translate Community

By Chris Crum at WebProNews:  


Google just announced the launch of a new Translate Community aimed at helping the company improve its translation quality for the 80 languages it already supports.

The community is aimed at multi-lingual language enthusiasts, who will also be tasked with helping Google launch in additional languages.

“In the new community, you’ll find options to help with a variety of things, including generating new translations and rating existing ones,” says Google Translate program manager Sveta Kelman. “Over time, you’ll find more ways to contribute, as well as get more visibility into the impact of your contributions and the activity across the community. We will also localize Community pages to support your preferred display language. If you have feedback and ideas about improving and growing our community, we’d love to hear it so please don’t hesitate to submit it via “Send feedback” link on the bottom of the page.”


Translate Community will also give people who don’t necessarily want to volunteer their time to dedicate to the cause a place to let the team know about problems they encounter while using Google’s products.

Users can click an “Improve this translation” button, and then “Contribute” to submit a suggestion. It will incorporate corrections over time.



#INFOGRAPHIC: The Landscape of Social Login




By Kimberlee Morrison at Social Times:


Facebook is indeed a powerful force on the Internet. Not only have recent reports indicated that the social networking behemoth refers more traffic than any other social site, according to Q2 data from social identity management software provider Gigya, Facebook is regaining its lead — and taking market share from other networks, too.

Gigya director of marketing Victor White attributes this trend to the fact that Facebook makes it easy to auto-populate data across a wide range of services. This is done to create personalized experiences.

There’s also a trust factor at play. During the F8 developer conference, Facebook announced that it was giving users granular social login control, effectively enabling them to control what information they share with business. Of course, we’ll have to wait for the Q3 data to find out if the controversy over recent experiments have had any impact on user trust.

White also notes that the social component is not to be underestimated.

“When users log into a site, they intuitively want to share their experiences with networks of real friends,” he says. “Users know that when they log into sites with their social network credentials, they will be able to share seamlessly with their friends.”

On the other side of the spectrum is Yahoo, which has seen its share of social logins decline steadily over the last few quarters. In March, Yahoo disabled Facebook and Google+ identity management on its online properties — a move that hasn’t had any impact on the free fall in consumers using Yahoo to manage their social identity. White says that Yahoo’s only chance is to provide real value to both businesses and consumers.

“They’ll need to consider how identity can be used to power on-site personalization, social graph integration and potentially even payments,” he says. “Until the company can offer substantial benefits for consumers as an identity provider, Yahoo will continue to lag far behind companies like Google and Facebook.”

Check out the infographic below for Q2 social login data from Gigya:



26 Questions EU Regulators Want Google to Answer




By Sam Schechner at WSJ:

PARIS—European Union privacy watchdogs grilled Google Inc. and other search engines for two hours on Thursday on how they are implementing the bloc’s new “right to be forgotten” online–and then gave them homework to do by next week, too.

The main body that joins together the EU’s national data-protection regulators called the Brussels meeting with Google, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc. amid rising discontent from some regulators over elements of Google’s application of the surprise May court decision that gives Europeans the right to ask for the removal of links from search results for their names in some cases.

Regulators  touched on some hot-button issues in six oral questions and another 26 written ones, with answers due by next Thursday. They asked Google to describe the “legal basis” of its decision to notify publishers when it approves right-to-be-forgotten requests, something that has led to requesters’ being publicly identified in some cases. They also asked search engines to explain where they take down the results, after complaints from some regulators that Google does not filter results on google.com. That means that anyone in Europe can switch from, say, google.co.uk to Google.com to see any removed links.

In response to another question, Google told regulators Thursday that it has been removing just over 50% of the items that people have asked to be unlinked from searches for their names, while rejecting just over 30% of requests, and asking for more information on 15%.

But for the most part, data protection officials avoided a more in-depth, controversial discussion during Thursday’s meeting, saving the tough decisions and orders for a set of guidelines the regulators aim to publish in late September or early October, attendees said.

“We didn’t tell the search engines to do anything. We were gathering information,” said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s data-protection authority, and chairman of the pan-European group of authorities.  “The goal was to help inform our decision on the guidelines.”

Read the full list of questions here, as provided by France’s data-protection authority:


Questions asked during the meeting

1. What information do you request from a data subject prior to considering a delisting request e.g. URLs, justification? Do you ask further motivation from the data subjects to substantiate their request?
2. Do you filter out some requests based on the location, nationality, or place of residence of the data subject? If so, what is the legal basis for excluding such requests?
3. Do you delist results displayed following a search:
a. Only on EU / EEA domains?
b. On all domains pages accessible from the EU / EEA or by EU/EEA residents?
c. On all domains on a global basis?
4. What criteria do you use to balance your economic interest and/or the interest of the general public in having access to that information versus the right of the data subject to have search results delisted?
5. What explanations / grounds do you provide to data subjects to justify a refusal to delist certain URLs?
6. Do you notify website publishers of delisting? In that case, which legal basis do you have to notify website publishers?


Additional questions to be answered in writing by July 31

7. Do you provide proper information about the delisting process on an easily accessible webpage? Have you developed a help center explaining how to submit a delisting claim?
8. Can data subjects request delisting only using the electronic form that you provide, or can other means be used?
9. Can data subjects request delisting in their own language?
10. If you filter out some requests based on the location, nationality, or place of residence, what kind of information must be provided by the data subject in order to prove his nationality and / or place of residence?
11. Do you ask for a proof of identify or some other form of authentication and if yes, what kind? For what reason? What safeguards do you put in place to protect any personal data that you process for the purpose of processing delisting requests?
12. Do you accept general claims for delisting (e.g. delist all search results linking to a news report)?
13. When you decide to accept a delisting request, what information do you actually delist? Do you ever permanently delist hyperlinks in response to a removal request, as opposed to delisting?
14. Do you delist search results based only on the name of the data subject or also in combination of the name with another search term (i.e. Costeja and La Vanguardia)
15. How do you treat removal requests with regard to hyperlinks to pages that do not (no longer) contain the name of the data subject? [Examples: hyperlink to anonymised ruling, hyperlink to page where name of data subject was removed]. Do you immediately recrawl the sites after a removal request?
16. Does your company refuse requests when the data subject was the author of the information he/she posted himself/herself on the web? If so, what is the basis for refusing such requests?
17. Do you have any automated process defining if a request is accepted or refused?
18. What technical solution do you use to ensure that links to material to which a removal agreement applies are not shown in the search results?
19. Which of your services do you consider delisting requests to be relevant to?
20. Do you notify users through the search results’ page information that some results have been removed according to EU law? In that case, which is the legal basis for this? What is the exact policy? In particular, it appears that this notice is sometimes displayed even in the absence of removal requests by data subjects. Can you confirm or exclude that this is actually the case and, if so, could you elaborate on the applicable criteria?
21. Have you considered sharing delisted search results with other search engines providers?
22. What is the average time to process the requests?
23. What statistics can you share at this stage (percentage of requests accepted / partially accepted / refused)? How many have you answered in total? How many per day?
24. Will you create a database of all removal requests or removal agreements?
25. What particular problems have you faced when implementing the Court’s ruling? Are there particular categories of requests that pose specific problems?
26. Could you please provide us with contact details in case we need to exchange on a specific case?

Lisa Fleischer contributed to this article. 

Bose Sues Beats Over Noise-Cancelling Patents



By Daisuki Wakabayashi at Wall Street Journal Digits Blog


Bose is suing Beats Electronics, the headphone and speaker maker that Apple agreed to acquire for $3 billion earlier this year, for infringing on patents related to its noise-cancelling technology.

Bose filed the lawsuit on Friday in U.S. District Court in Delaware, saying that Beats – known for its colorful and flashy headphones – had infringed on five of its patents pertaining to its noise-cancelling headphones. Bose also filed a complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking to halt the sale and import of certain Beats products.

In the lawsuit, Bose asks for damages and an injunction against Beats.

“We are committed to protecting our investment, protecting our customers, and defending the patents we own,” a Bose spokeswoman said in a statement. Spokespeople for Beats and Apple declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint doesn’t affect the closing of the Apple deal scheduled for September, according to one person familiar with the matter.

23 Jul 2014

Windows 9: One OS For Desktop, Mobile & Xbox





By Chris Smith at BGR:  


Unlike Apple, which thinks merging iOS and OS X would be a “waste of energy,” Microsoft wants one single Windows operating system to be available to all its device users, whether they’re Windows Phone handset owners, Xbox fans, or rely on a Windows computer for work or play. Business Insider reports that CEO Satya Nadella said on the company’s FQ4 earnings conference call that a future version of Windows will merge all current Windows versions, becoming an “operating system that covers all screen sizes.”

“In the year ahead, we are investing in ways that will ensure our device OS and first party hardware aligned to our core,” Nadella said. “We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.”

“We will unify our stores, commerce and developer platforms to drive a more coherent user experience and a broader developer opportunity,” he added.



Microsoft already revealed at Build 2014 in early April that it will let developers create apps that will work across devices, including Windows Phone smartphones, Windows computers and Xbox consoles, but the company is apparently ready to go even further.

However, that doesn’t mean Microsoft will have a simpler way of selling Windows products to users.

“Our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users,” Nadella added. “And so we will – be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.”

Microsoft Launches Lumia 530 w/ 4-inch Display




By Ben Woods at TNW:  


Microsoft has today announced a new member of its Lumia range in the form of the low-end Lumia 530, which will arrive from the start of next month in Europe.



Priced at €85 before taxes or local subsidies, Microsoft said it expects the Lumia 530 to go on sale in European countries for a retail price of below €100 when it starts to roll out next month, putting it at the lower-end of the affordability scale for Lumia devices.



Key specs include the most recent version of Windows Phone 8.1, a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera, a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels) display and a selection of interchangeable colored shells – available in bright orange, bright green, grey or white. The device will also be offered in single SIM and dual-SIM variants.



Alongside the phone, the company also introduced a new mini speaker designed with portability in mind. Priced at €19, the Bang by Coloud may not offer luxuries such as Bluetooth connection, but it does offer connectivity through a 3.5mm headphone jack and promises up to eight hours of playback. Microsoft said it would be available “in the coming weeks”.



The Next Age Of Foursquare Begins Today




By Ellis Hamburger at The Verge:  


In mid-May, Foursquare decided to split itself in two. The first half is Swarm, an app that lets you find friends nearby and check in. The second half is the forthcoming Foursquare 8.0, a complete redesign of the company’s existing app that has until now been kept secret. It's launching in just a few weeks. In the words of CEO Dennis Crowley, the new Foursquare is the app he always wanted to build — an exploration app unhindered by the check-ins that previously held center stage. Now we’re finally getting to see how it looks.



The new Foursquare swaps the service’s trademark green for pink ("watermelon"), and ditches its famous bouncing-ball logo for a vibrant "F" flag. Foursquare’s new wordmark is bold and grown-up instead of a playful doodle. The company looks nothing like before, and that’s the point. Battling the world’s preconceptions about the company is seemingly just as important as battling Yelp and Google.

"The check-in story has dominated the brand and user experience," says Crowley. "We’d hear people say ‘I had no idea I could use this app to search for places.’" So, the new Foursquare puts personalization front and center. Every piece of the new app that’s customized just for you, like your favorite foods served at nearby places, is accentuated in pink. Crowley calls Foursquare’s hyper-contextual recommendations "superpowers," a theme that has become increasingly prominent within the company in recent years. Crowley repeats again and again that Foursquare should help you see through walls and find the best places instantly in a city across the world.


In early brainstorming sessions, the company tried globes, magnifying glasses, and other symbols of exploration to represent the company. More than twenty-five different Foursquare icons rotated across the home screens of the company’s many employees, a series of A/B tests to see what felt right. But eventually, the company rallied around Crowley’s "super" vision. The new Foursquare icon’s blocky pink "F" is Crowley’s superhero emblem as much as it is a flag, or a location pin. Instead of saving the world, however, Crowley’s app might help you find the best soba in SoHo.



Foursquare hopes that its new design will make the service’s strengths more obvious, and provide more room for experimentation. "The existing version of Foursquare didn’t have enough room for us to flex all the things we wanted to do," says Crowley. "There’s been so much stuff locked up in admin tools and insider Foursquare views. Adding a 'most popular this month' section would’ve been awesome, but where are you gonna put it?" As part of today’s announcement, Foursquare is also teasing a few features of its new app, one of which is a Billboard-style "Most Popular" module that lets users see which places nearby are hottest right now. Thanks to its users who still check in, Foursquare is perhaps the only company that can track up and coming places with so much precision. But even without check-ins, Crowley argues, Foursquare’s unique "Pilgrim" location engine can pin you down at specific places better than any other app.

While many of Swarm’s user reviews have been disappointing — the app holds a 1.5 star rating in the App Store as of this writing — COO Jeff Glueck says that current users are checking in more than ever. "People are using Foursquare and Swarm better," he says. "They check in more often on Swarm according to our data, and are using Foursquare more often to explore. We’re seeing more Explore queries once people migrated." Glueck emphasizes that it’s a very vocal minority of Foursquare users who have opposed the company’s changes, which not only moved check-ins out of Foursquare but largely removed mayorships and the app’s points system for competing with friends for check-ins. Foursquare has since added back some of these features to Swarm.


Foursquare admits that it could’ve managed expectations a bit better, and timed the two app launches closer together so users weren’t confused. "It wasn’t a mistake. There is no prior arc with someone trying to do an unbundling like this before," says Crowley, "but I don’t think there’s any real perfect way to do it." In the next few weeks, the company plans to finish pushing all of its users to Swarm before completely removing the check-in from Foursquare once and for all. Another big change it will have to communicate is that Foursquare and Swarm will soon contain two separate friends lists. Foursquare will let you follow people and tastemakers you like, while Swarm will let you pick who you want to share your general location with, which is likely a much smaller group. This distinction perfectly exemplifies why Foursquare struggled as an app containing two often-separate utilities.

One year ago, rumors swirled that morale at Foursquare had hit a new low. The company’s two focuses, check-ins and local recommendations, seemed interminably at odds. Only 5 percent of its users did both when they opened Foursquare each time. Today, Foursquare is getting the fresh start it always wanted — a chance to look different, and an opportunity to take on not one but two important new roles in peoples’ lives. Crowley and co. are betting that with their two new apps, people will finally understand exactly what Foursquare is for.

Facebook Save Lets You Bookmark For Later



By Selena Larson at ReadWrite:  


Since you're not spending enough time on Facebook, you can now save things to read or view later ... on Facebook.

On Monday, the company announced the Save feature, which allows users to bookmark things like links, photos or videos to view when they actually have time to sit down and enjoy them. It's Facebook's answer to Pocket and Evernote—sort of.

Unlike these other services, stuff saved on Facebook can only be saved and viewed while using Facebook mobile and Web services.



Though the feature lets you bookmark things like pictures, it's clear this is geared more towards news and information shared on Facebook—the stuff we usually don't have time to check out when we're quickly scrolling through the news feed. The company has put an increased focus on putting news higher in your feed than, say, pictures of Grumpy Cat.

Good on Facebook for calling this feature "Save" instead of "Read Later," because, let's be real, who has time to read it later anyway?

Why Many People Want Their BlackBerrys Back After Switching




By Zach Epstein at BGR:


Following the release of the original iPhone in 2007 and the subsequent launch of Android, many people with work-issued phones spent years asking for their employers to switch away from BlackBerry smartphones to more modern devices. Finally, as Apple and Google increased their focus on security and BlackBerry hit dire straights a few years ago, workers began getting what that wanted and bring your own device (BYOD) policies became more common.

More recently, however, an interesting trend is being observed: Workers want their BlackBerrys back.

Following the release of the original iPhone in 2007 and the subsequent launch of Android, many people with work-issued phones spent years asking for their employers to switch away from BlackBerry smartphones to more modern devices. Finally, as Apple and Google increased their focus on security and BlackBerry hit dire straights a few years ago, workers began getting what that wanted and bring your own device (BYOD) policies became more common.

More recently, however, an interesting trend is being observed: Workers want their BlackBerrys back.

FROM EARLIER: BlackBerry says its square phone is already stealing back iOS and Android users

CIO’s Tom Kaneshige reports on an interesting phenomenon that we’ve heard rumblings of in the past. At companies where employees were permitted to ditch their work-issued BlackBerry phones and bring their own iPhones and Android handsets, they’re now begging their IT departments to move back to BlackBerry.

Why? It turns out there are a few reasons.

For one thing, there are privacy concerns. When workers use their own iOS and Android devices, IT departments gain access to all of their private data in addition to any corporate apps that might be on the devices. It’s never a good thing when you have to hand over a smartphone packed full of naked selfies so that IT can fix an issue with email not syncing properly.

Beyond that, IT professionals Kaneshige spoke with say they are having some serious problems with mobile device management (MDM) software, and the related on-device apps often cause issues like battery drain and device bogging.


The full report


Apple Is Giving Access to OS X Yosemite Public Beta Tomorrow




By Nick Summers at TNW:


Apple will soon allow any Mac user to download the beta version of OS X Yosemite, the latest version of its desktop operating system.

To access Yosemite, you’ll need to head to the OS X Beta Program page and submit your details. As Engadget reports, only one million people will be accepted into the scheme, so if you’re interested sign up now.

By registering an email address, Apple says it will notify you shortly about the OS X Yosemite beta. The early preview should be available at around 1PM Eastern/10am Pacific tomorrow (July 24), meaning there’s just over 24 hours for you to sit and gaze longingly at these screenshots.



OS X Yosemite sports a flat design inspired by iOS 7, including a new dark theme and translucent layers for the Finder and Dock. There’s also an Alfred-style productivity and app launcher, iCloud Drive and ‘Continuity,’ which makes it easier to switch between your Mac and iOS devices.