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Mobile Technology News, April 21, 2014

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • BBC and Sky experience fault on iOS
    The BBC and Sky’s video-on-demand apps simultaneously experience a fault on iPhones and iPads that prevents TV shows from streaming.
  • Teachers angry at online insults
    Online social media is being misused to insult, intimidate and smear staff in schools, says a teachers’ union.
  • Netflix battles for big budget TV
    The battle for exclusive online TV shows
  • Where Wall Street met Silicon Valley
    Two cultures collide at the online retail giant
  • Hear The 'Pokemon' Theme Song Performed As A Soulful Slow Jam
    Amongst a multitude of media over the years, there is one entity spanning almost two decades that has united generations in a single cause: Gotta catch ’em all!

    We are, of course, referring to “Pokémon,” whose franchise of cartoons, video games, movies, trading cards and so much more have had kids and adults alike striving for years “to be the very best, like no one ever was.”

    Which leads us to its iconic theme song, that’s been given a twist by Scott Bradlee, creator of Postmodern Jukebox, in a new series titled “Saturday Morning Slow Jams.”

    Click play to ‘catch’ this soulful car-tune you’re bound to love as much as Pikachu.

  • Bullying Books Empower Students, Parents and School Personnel
    New book helps educators and parents deal with bullying

    Nancy Willard has been writing and speaking about cyberbullying since practically before the term was coined. But, like most cyberbullying experts, she knows that cyberbullying — for the most part — is bullying. And that — plus a lot of research, a master’s in education and a law degree — qualify her as a bullying expert.

    Willard has recently written two important books. One, which you can buy on Amazon for $40.19, is Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere): Legal Parameters & Positive Strategies to Address Bullying & Harassment.

    If you’re a school administrator, a counselor, a teacher or a parent leader, you owe it to yourself and your students to read this book. In it Willard focuses on what schools are doing to stop bullying and what is and isn’t working. Wearing both her educator and lawyer hats, she shares insights into bullying and looks at laws and enforcement while providing supporting resources and an “action plan.” Willard — who I often quote in my bullying articles — writes about “hurtful speech vs. free speech” and explores “disparaging speech on campus.”

    Well-meaning adults can make things worse

    Naturally, adults at school and home want to support kids in their care, but Willard points out that many of the most commonly used approaches, like a strict disciplinary policy are often ineffective. Pointing to research, she cites a study that found

    while 87 percent of school staff think they have effective strategies for handling bullying, 58 percent of middle and 66 percent of high school students believe adults at school are not doing enough to stop or prevent bullying.

    A free e-book for parents

    Willard has also written a free 26-page e-book that you can download for free from her Embrace Civility website. The short e-book, which draws on some of the materials in her education book, provides talks about why “the current bullying prevention approach is not working,” and gives parents advice on legal protection for their bullied child or teen.” There are also “strategies to prepare and make your case for the need for more effective intervention in the situation facing your child or teen.” There are short chapters on legal protections including “preparing and making your case,” plus practical tips to help resolve and diffuse problems. “One of the biggest mistakes the parent of a bullied child or teen can make is calling for the student(s) who are being hurtful to be ‘punished,’ wrote Willard. “Holding these students accountable and ensuring their hurtful actions are stopped is essential. Punishment will not accomplish this.”

    Anne Collier, my ConnectSafely.org co-director has more thoughts on Willard’s books along with some insight of her own in her blog post, “A positive, insightful new book for schools on bullying.

    Another free resource is A Parents’ Guide to Cyberbullying from ConnectSafely.org, the non-profit organization where I serve as co-director. In this eight-page guide, we focus on just the basics that parents need to know when dealing with bullying online and on mobile devices (which of course often has its roots in school).

    This post first appeared on SafeKids.com

  • The Winner In The War Between Xbox One, PS4 And Wii U Is… Everyone
    Sony on Thursday announced it has cumulatively sold more than 7 million units of its Playstation 4 console. Meanwhile, Microsoft has reported no real sales figures for Xbox One, but has announced 5 million units shipped to retailers since the console launched.

    These numbers have renewed interest in the next-generation console wars, leading many to again question which of the three — Playstation 4, Xbox One or Nintendo’s Wii U — has really come out on top. But ultimately, does it matter? The new generation of consoles can be considered a success for almost everyone involved (well, maybe not Nintendo), including especially consumers.

    1. Rumors of console gaming’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
    Two years ago, everyone said the console game was a dying breed, and that the future of gaming was not in the living room, but on mobile.

    Several million new console owners say otherwise. The console wars earned Xbox and Playstation, even Nintendo, massive amounts of publicity and attention — even from non-gamers.

    Some anecdotal evidence here that I’m sure most gamers can appreciate: In the past year alone, I’ve had more people than ever before ask me if I favor Xbox or Playstation. Most of the time, this question came from non-gamers looking for some insight into which console was better than the other.

    playstation 4
    Sony’s Playstation 4.

    Everyone likes a good battle between industry titans, and it may be safe to conclude that the publicity surrounding next-gen consoles encouraged a few first-time buyers to pick one up, or, at the very least, play on someone else’s Xbox 360 or PS3 (now that they’re not getting as much use), potentially creating new customers down the road.

    And both Sony and Microsoft have plenty to celebrate when it comes to their sales. Despite Microsoft’s “mum’s the word” attitude regarding sales numbers, it’s easy to see that Playstation is currently on top and will remain there for some time. But Microsoft is not a loser in any sense. Just by estimating the number of new Xbox sales, based on how many units Microsoft has shipped, we feel confident saying the Xbox One has sold enough consoles to be considered a success, even if it hasn’t earned the top spot.

    Both Xbox and Playstation sales numbers are even more impressive when you consider the lack of must-have content available for each. Though the Xbox-exclusive “Titanfall” was the most popular game in its launch month of March, it has not closed the gap between the two consoles.

    And there’s no doubting that a game can change the course of fate for a failing console. The popular “Halo” series has long kept consumers on Xbox. Some, like the folks at investment blog The Motley Fool, think the “Halo” franchise’s next installment, coming out in 2014, might just give Xbox One the edge it needs.

    xbox one
    Microsoft’s Xbox One.

    2. Competition breeds innovation.
    In 2006, Nintendo revolutionized the way we interact with video games by introducing a motion-sensing controller. The Wii opened up a new demographic of gamers that Sony and Microsoft had never tapped into: grandparents. The unlikely customers helped Nintendo solidify itself as a serious contender in that round of the console wars.

    Fast-forward to 2014, and you have an Xbox console that wants to control your living room, a Wii U that wants to give you a second-screen gaming experience and a Playstation that could offer backwards compatibility by this summer.

    Innovation has always been a huge focus in the gaming industry, and this new generation is no different. While each of these three new consoles are comparable in terms of power, their differences highlight the attempt to strike the right note with consumers, even if it means failing once or twice.

    wii u
    Nintendo’s Wii U.

    Go to the comment section of any console war article, and you’ll find nay-sayers from all sides, arguing that the Xbox forsook its gaming audience or that the Playstation refused to innovate. Regardless of where you stand, the fact that Xbox is experimenting with cable integration and the Wii U has messed up its marketing strategy (once, twice, many times), means that all current and future consoles will be better in tune with what the public wants.

    And what all of this boils down to is that the consumer has a choice.

    3. Innovation Creates Choice.

    Sony may have racked up the most sales, but at the end of the day, any mistakes, pitfalls or lackluster sales push all three companies to be better, which is a big win for the consumer, no matter how you slice it. Different consoles create a different experience, and the “winner” for one consumer might not be the best option for another.

    The great news is that there are three excellent consoles for sale from three different companies working tirelessly to make them better. All the consumer has to do is choose.

    Like your history teacher taught you, to best understand the events of today we need only examine the past. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have been duking it out for a while, but there’s never been a clear winner. And that’s probably best for all involved.

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