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Mobile Technology News, March 5, 2015

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.

  • Social Media and the Ability to "Be"
    The definition of “social” has changed. You no longer have to be physically with someone to interact with them, and you don’t even have to talk to have a conversation. Gone are the days where job interviews were limited by proximity, breaking news limited by slow mediums, or even friendships limited by meeting someone face-to-face. Social media has propelled us into a realm where anything seems possible, and the bounds that used to hold back society are gone. But lately, I’ve been thinking, have we lost something with those bounds?

    I’m not talking about losing the ability to “be in the moment” — an overused phrase often dropped by those opposed to social media movement, and one that I see as weak ammunition. What I’m afraid we’ve lost is not the ability to be in the moment, but the ability to just be.

    I’ll use myself as an example. The other night, I put together an outfit that I considered to be some of my best work. None of the pieces in this outfit were too expensive, but it all seemed to go together to create something cohesive and stylish, something of which I was proud. Maybe I’ve been following New York Fashion Week coverage too closely, but I felt inspired, and after I topped off this look with hair and makeup, I felt good.

    I snapped a picture of myself in my full-length and immediately sent it to my best friend who lives in a different state, and who knows my style and can appreciate when I put effort into an outfit. She responded with a text that says, “‘She looks cute!’ -people I’m with.”

    “Success!” I thought to myself. “Her friends that don’t even know my think I look good.” My next thought was one that I am ashamed to admit, but one that I think modern social media has caused to plague millennials far and wide.

    “I need more people to see this.”

    I don’t have an Instagram account and most of the time I don’t feel like I’m missing out, but I found myself wishing I had one in this moment. I wanted the gratification of “likes,” of people acknowledging my efforts. My ability to just enjoy the confidence that comes with wearing an outfit I loved was compromised by my desire for the affirmation that comes from a like.

    This is what I think is wrong with a social media obsessed world. We can’t seem to enjoy something for what it is without wanting everyone to know we’re enjoying it. We can’t dance to the encore at our favorite band’s concert because we’re too busy capturing it for our snap story, to make sure that people know we’re doing something exciting. We can’t dig into a beautiful meal before snapping a picture of it first, to make sure that people know we ate something delicious. We can’t have a great hair day or wear something cute without taking a photo and sharing it, making sure people know we looked good that day. We can’t just be.

    I don’t think social media is a dangerous or even bad, but when we start using it as a tool to validate our lives, we give it too much power. The quality of an outfit should not be determined by the amount of likes you get on a picture of it, but how it makes you feel. A delicious homemade Thanksgiving dinner is worth more than some “double-taps,” on Instagram, and a photo of a sunset or skyline is not quantifiable by how many of your Facebook friends like it. Sharing something on social media doesn’t take away from being in the moment, by the anxiety that can come with monitoring your amount likes after sharing is a problem.

    It took a personal example for me to realize this. Lo and behold, a photo was taken of me in my cute outfit that night with my roommate, and the next day, I uploaded it to Facebook. After uploading it, I obsessively checked my phone to see how many of my friends had liked or commented on it. I was sitting there staring at screen, waiting for people to legitimize the way I felt in that outfit. After a day obsessing about my social media performance, I felt vain, petty, and somewhat powerless in the face of this app that had somehow infiltrated its way into my psyche. I decided to give it up, just for the day. I wouldn’t check in to see how many friends liked the picture, or, conversely, to see and “like” what my friends had posted from the weekend. I wanted to break from the cycle, if only just for a day.

    I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard. The little red number indicating a notification popped up on the Facebook app on my phone, and a couple times I had to stop myself from clicking it out of pure habit. It felt strained for a little while, but then, it felt good.

    Being in the moment is simple; social media didn’t take that from us. If given the power to do so, though, it can take our ability to be. To be happy with our outfit for no other reason than it makes us feel beautiful. To be totally lost in a song at a concert and forget to take a picture of the stage. To be captivated by a winter snow storm and not feel the need to get the artsiest photo to share on Instagram.

    Gone are the days where the world was large and scary and the people kept in their own corners; this is for the better. But with those fleeting times, let’s not lose the intrinsic self-confidence that comes with not needing validation. Let’s not lose the ability to just be.

  • Hillary Clinton Responds To Email Controversy: 'I Want The Public To See My Email'
    WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton responded to intense scrutiny over her email practices on Wednesday, saying she has asked the State Department to make available her private email during her tenure as secretary of state.

    “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible,” Clinton wrote in a Tweet posted late Wednesday evening.

    A New York Times report published Monday evening set off a firestorm of criticism, and suggested Clinton violated State Department regulations by using a personal email account for government business, potentially shielding her correspondence from public inquiries like Freedom of Information Act requests. Her email account, clintonemail.com, was hosted by a server located at her home, and reportedly “became a symbol of status within the family’s inner circle.”

    Clinton’s advisers submitted some 50,000 pages of emails to the State Department two months ago at the government’s request, but critics maintained that using private email allowed Clinton to pick and choose which documents to submit with no way to verify the process. A House panel investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday issued a subpoena for any and all of Clinton’s private emails related to the attack.

    The controversy threatens to derail Clinton’s likely presidential campaign launch, reportedly planned for this month or next. Her way of addressing growing controversy — in a tweet nearly 48 hours after it was first reported — is likely to add to concerns over whether she is prepared to run a presidential campaign in today’s hyper-media atmosphere.

  • See How 3 Women are Harnessing Technology to Live a Purpose-Driven Life
    Employees today want more than just a job with a salary. They want purpose. According to research from Burston-Marstellar, 34 percent of employees would accept a pay reduction to work for a socially responsible company. And 69 percent of employees consider the social and environmental track record of a prospective employer when deciding where to work.

    The trend is pervasive among younger workers. The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows that for six in 10 millennials, a “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers. A study of aspiring entrepreneurs in the U.K. showed that 27 percent of 18- to 30-year-old respondents wanted to start a social enterprise; that number drops to 22 percent when taking into account respondents with the same ambitions from all age groups.

    Women are also more likely than men to want to start a social enterprise, according to the report. However, only 45 percent of the potential women entrepreneurs surveyed said they have the ability and skills to set up their own business, compared to 49 percent of men. In addition, the Deloitte study showed only 57 percent of women surveyed hope to achieve a senior leadership position, compared to 64 percent of men.

    Over the years, we at Cisco have been very fortunate to meet and engage with many women who are leading a purpose-driven life. Through their ambition and accolades, these successful women are helping to upend the statistics. In recognition of International Women’s Day, I want to congratulate a few of them for inspiring others with their commitment to social change and leadership.

    Improving Quality Of Life For People With Disabilities
    lucie dalguerre
    Lucie d’Alguerre was a student in an entrepreneurship class at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France, when she learned about a competition that required applicants to employ technology to solve social and environmental issues. Lucie thought of her uncle, who is blind. She imagined a fully connected city that could transmit information, from traffic lights, bus locations, shops and more to the white cane he carried, allowing him to navigate the streets and sidewalks more safely and easily. Lucie’s professor connected her with four other students who, like Lucie, had taken Cisco Networking Academy courses, to develop a proposal for the contest.

    Lucie built relationships with city agencies and an association for people with low vision. Her teammates divided the other responsibilities of running a small business — like technology development, business planning and finances. Lucie was the only woman among the six teams that advanced to the final round. After months of work and development, Lucie’s team won the top prize of €70,000 and mentoring support from Cisco. They started their own company, Handisco, and began to pitch their idea to investors. In June 2014, Handisco received the Pepite Award, a National Prize for Innovation from the French Ministry of Education, and met French President François Hollande.

    Empowering High Schoolers To Launch IT Careers
    lisa oyler
    As a high school teacher and Cisco Networking Academy instructor, Lisa Oyler chose a profession of purpose. With a background in teaching business courses and a talent for technology, she knew that students who mastered and enjoyed both would easily find successful careers.

    Every year, Lisa puts her students through a demanding and rigorous curriculum. She challenges them with hands-on projects and engaging classroom activities that mirror “exactly what is happening in the industry today,” she says.

    Several years ago, Lisa learned about the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, designed to inspire students to pursue careers in cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

    From 2011 to 2014, Lisa coached four CyberPatriot teams, taking three of them to the national finals. In 2015, she coached five teams, including her first all-female team. One of her teams qualified for the CyberPatriot national finals and will compete in Washington, D.C., on March 13. Lisa has watched her students go to college, land summer internships while still in high school, mentor other students and even start their own businesses.

    Mentors Help Young Women Build Career Confidence
    shae howard
    Shae Howard is outnumbered, but undeterred. As a Cisco business consultant in Sydney, Australia, she is familiar with being the only woman at the table. But she also knows women with mentors have an advantage. As Shae wrote last year on The Huffington Post, “Working hard, on its own, is not enough to get ahead. You have to know how to talk about your achievements, how to take credit for what you do, how you add value to your business unit, how to ask for what you want and who can support you in getting there … this is where a mentor can make a huge impact.”

    To that end, Shae worked with the University of Technology in Sydney to launch a 60-hour mentoring program for women working toward a bachelor’s degree in IT. She recruited six mentors to provide one-on-one coaching, arranged group events with professionals from different departments and set up workshops with female executives.

    The program is about to enter its third year; Shae reports that one student from the first cohort has been hired into Cisco’s graduate program, an early-in-career development track for new university graduates.

    When people look for and demand purpose in their work, it impacts businesses, communities and the economy. In a survey of 474 business executives conducted by EY and Said Business School at University of Oxford, 87 percent believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit. More than 80 percent agreed that purpose-driven organizations have greater employee satisfaction, better customer advocacy, and higher quality products and services.

    Shae, Lisa and Lucie all have taken different paths to finding purpose in their work, but the outcomes have been the same. They are helping others thrive, solving social problems and making an impact on their communities. And as role models and leaders, they exemplify the intersection between technology and human connection.

  • Snowden Documents: New Zealand Spying On Pacific Neighbors And Indonesia
    WELLINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – New Zealand has been spying electronically on its Pacific Island neighbors and Indonesia and sharing the intelligence with its international allies, according to documents released on Thursday.
    The documents, released by former U.S. National Security Authority contractor Edward Snowden and dating back to 2009, said New Zealand’s electronic spy agency had intercepted emails, mobile and fixed line phone calls, social media messages and other communications in small Pacific states including Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and French Polynesia.
    The material gathered by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was shared with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), which along with agencies in Australia, Britain, and Canada, make up the “Five Eyes” surveillance network.
    “They’ve gone from some selected targeting of the South Pacific states and other targets to a new stage of where they just hoover up everything,” investigative writer Nicky Hager said on Radio New Zealand.
    “They take every single phone call, every single email, and they go straight off into databases, which are U.S. National Security Agency databases.”
    Hager, who is collaborating with the New Zealand Herald newspaper and Intercept website in revealing the documents, said there would be further disclosures.
    The documents also said a New Zealand GCSB officer had worked with the Australian Signals Directorate in spying on Indonesian cellphone company Telkomsel.
    Prime Minister John Key refused to comment on the disclosures, but had said on Wednesday when asked about their expected release that they were bound to be wrong. The GCSB also refused comment.
    The role of the agency, which has a large eavesdropping facility at the top of the country’s South Island, was an issue in last year’s general election, with documents released by Snowden suggesting the GCSB was planning to conduct mass domestic surveillance.
    The GCSB is banned from spying on New Zealand citizens, unless authorized to support other agencies, but has no legal restrictions on foreign activities.
    The South Pacific region has seen military coups in Fiji, inter-communal armed strife in the Solomon Islands, while France maintains military bases in Tahiti and New Caledonia.
    China has also been increasing its influence and development aid to small island states.
    (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Michael Perry)
  • Etsy Files For $100 Million IPO, Doesn't Seem So Cutesy Anymore
    Esty, the online seller of hand-knit beard warmers, vintage Madras sportcoats and everything in between, filed for a $100 million initial public offering on Wednesday evening.

    The precise details of the transaction are subjection to revision and addition, but the basic outline of the Brooklyn-based company’s financial details and strategy are unlikely to change much, if at all. Etsy generated $195.6 million in revenue last year, up 56.4 percent from 2013, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The details also show that as Etsy begins the process of going public, the company is in transition: It’s making less and less money selling things to customers and more and more money selling services to sellers.

    The share of the company’s revenue that comes from what it calls its “marketplace” (aka the website itself), have fallen for three straight years. In 2012, the marketplace revenues made up 74 percent of the company’s total revenue, according to the filing. In 2013, it was down to 63 percent; in 2014, 56 percent. At the same time that the marketplace’s revenue share fell, the company’s only other major source of revenue, what it calls “seller services,” rose: from 21 percent in 2012, to 34 percent in 2013, to 42 percent in 2014.

    What exactly are the seller services Etsy offers? Three things, which basically amount to artisanal logistics: promoted listings, payment processing and shipping labels. In other words, more and more of Etsy’s revenue is coming from a combination of what are essentially ads, payment fees and logistics support. Those deeply dull offerings mean Etsy is competing with decidedly un-handmade companies like PayPal (for payments), Facebook (for ads) and FedEx and UPS (for shipping support).

    But, as the company says in the “Path Forward” section of its filing, these services “help an Etsy seller spend more time on the pleasures of her craft and less time on the administrative aspects of her business.”

    This whole strategy relies, of course, on the unlikely proposition that Etsy can, over the long term, compete with UPS and PayPal on price, or the more likely idea that sellers simply like Etsy and want their products affiliated with Etsy in a way they don’t like or feel affinity for a corporate death star like Facebook, where anyone can pay to have anything promoted. Etsy is self-selective, and that’s part of the appeal for people who want to promote products on it.

    The strategy may work. Big companies are annoying and not a pleasure for super-small businesses to work with. On the other hand, convincing a tiny producer of handmade coasters that you are not a big corporation becomes a little harder when you are, in fact, a publicly listed company.

    The problem Etsy will face as a public company is how to monetize artisans’ trust and have it too.

  • Lords want drone owners register
    The House of Lords EU Committee calls for a drone register to be set up which owners of unmanned aircraft would have to join.
  • The curious case of Leah Palmer
    The curious case of Leah Palmer
  • George Takei Gives Alabama 'The Finger' Over Gay Marriage Ruling With Social Media Campaign
    “Star Trek” icon George Takei is lending a hand — or, rather, a finger — to the battle for marriage equality in Alabama by helping to launch a social media effort in protest of that state’s recent halt on same-sex marriages.

    The actor and outspoken lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activist shared a photo of himself with his husband, Brad Takei, on Instagram and Twitter calling for his followers to give Alabama “the wedding finger” in response to the state’s apparent backtracking on marriage equality.

    “I’m going to say it. Alabama is really starting to piss me off,” Takei wrote in a separate Facebook post.

    In an email sent to The Huffington Post, Takei said:

    I was genuinely dismayed to hear that a state’s highest court would flout a federal court order, which was left to stand by both the Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. This is grandstanding at its worst, and it is extraconstitutional.

    You know, 60 years ago it wasn’t considered a real marriage if a white person wanted to marry an Asian American like me. And now look, I married a white dude. Times change. Attitudes change. And for the better.

    We decided to speak out in this somewhat tongue in cheek way to make an important point. It is all about love, and we, as a same-sex couple, just want the same right to have our love recognized.

    We hope enough couples, gay and straight, join with us to make this point. We’ll be collecting up the pics, all tagged with the hashtag #LuvUAlabama plus each couple’s home state, to create a mosaic of support for marriage equality. We hope Alabama, too, soon joins the right side of history, as all of America one day will.

    Others on Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets quickly followed Takei’s lead:

    From the good doctor in #NY. #LuvUAlabama
    @JoeMyGod pic.twitter.com/29GAHl66wa

    — Marriage Equality (@MarriageEqualty) March 4, 2015

    Disgusted with the Alabama Supreme Court’s choice to promote hate and bigotry #LuvUAlabama #Mo pic.twitter.com/uZ1mHhppcL

    — Tricia (@Boudica03) March 4, 2015

    #LuvUAlabama #WV My now HUSBAND @glavaris and I a few years back. We WON in WV. Keep it up AL!!! pic.twitter.com/GBHfOHgo9n

    — Justin W Murdock (@CitizenMurdock) March 4, 2015

    You’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers. #LuvUAlabama pic.twitter.com/va1imv5ees

    — The Hairy Gaytheist (@jhitchin) March 4, 2015

    Only time will tell if the effort will have an impact in Alabama, where the battle for same-sex marriage has taken some unexpected twists in recent weeks.

    In January, a federal judge found that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, while a number of probate judges promptly refused to comply with the ruling.

    Although the U.S. Supreme Court refused in February to halt same-sex marriages in Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples statewide in what has been deemed “a defiant ruling” on March 3.

  • HBO May Be Teaming Up With Apple For New 'HBO Now' Streaming Service
    It’s not HBO Go. It’s HBO Now.

    That’s going to be the name of HBO’s new standalone streaming service, according to a new report in the International Business Times. The outlet also said the forthcoming product will be priced at $15 a month, and that Apple is in discussions to be a launch partner.

    HBO announced last fall that it would launch a standalone service sometime this year, though it hasn’t publicly commented about the price or confirmed a release date or name. The Wall Street Journal reported back in October that the service would not be cheaper than $15, which is roughly what it costs to subscribe to HBO through your TV provider.

    IB Times’ Michael Learmonth reported Wednesday that the new service will launch in April ahead of the season premiere of HBO’s wildly popular series “Game of Thrones,” reiterating a December report by Variety.

    CNBC’s Julia Boorstin also reported on Wednesday about the name and price, and that Apple is in talks with the TV network.

    BREAKING: Sources tell @JBoorstin that Apple & HBO are in talks for Apple TV to be a launch partner for ‘HBO Now’.
    https://t.co/hQd9AzA3Xr

    — CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) March 4, 2015

    HBO would not comment on the IB Times or CNBC reports.

    “We know there’s great anticipation around our standalone streaming service,” an HBO spokesperson wrote in an email. “And when we have details to share, we will do so.”

    Apple did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

    HBO, which has traditionally been sold in the U.S. through cable and satellite providers, is one of a number of TV networks creating standalone streaming products that people can purchase without having a cable or satellite subscription. These services are meant to appeal to the growing number of “cord cutters” who have stopped paying for cable and chosen to get their video entertainment instead through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon.

    Showtime has also announced plans to offer a standalone streaming service, and the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that NBC will later this year launch a streaming service focused on comedy.

    Sling TV, a new live TV streaming product from Dish that’s also meant to appeal to those without cable, announced on Wednesday that it had added AMC and IFC to its slimmed down $20 monthly package of TV channels.

  • GOP Lawmaker Wants To Shut Down 'Illegal' Net Neutrality Rules
    A key Republican lawmaker overseeing the Federal Communications Commission has pledged this week to restrain the agency’s powers after it decided to issue what he argues are illegal net neutrality rules.

    Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the communications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, voiced his criticisms Wednesday at an industry summit hosted by the American Cable Association, according to The Hill.

    “I think it’s illogical and illegal. It didn’t have to be this way,” said Walden of the FCC’s vote to approve strong net neutrality protections. He added, “We intend to do our due diligence.”

    Walden is urging bipartisan support for a bill that he contends will offer similar protections without the risk of slowing investments in communications infrastructure.

    “I am at a loss for how to make my plea any clearer to my colleagues: Please work with us to draft a bill. What the FCC did last week is ill-advised, illogical and illegal,” he said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute. “And while there are other tools at Congress’ disposal to express our displeasure with this action, I remain firmly committed to a bipartisan legislative solution.”

    On Feb. 26, the FCC voted to reclassify consumer broadband service as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. With that new authority, the agency plans to ban Internet service providers from blocking lawful content and from charging content producers a premium for more reliable access to their content.

    At the American Cable Association’s gathering, Walden echoed the claim of other Republicans that the FCC has become a puppet of the Obama administration.

    “It is a fiction that the FCC is an independent agency anymore,” he said. “It is a relationship directly out of the White House, as we now know, and that is tragedy for the professionals at the FCC.”

    The five commissioners of the FCC are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three can come from any one political party. Their 3-2 vote on net neutrality split along party lines.

  • This Teen Was Innocently Eating Her McDonald's McFlurry — Until Her Sister Stepped In
    What Lauren Lavoie thought would be a silly joke to play on her sister turned into something a whole lot bigger — and it’s all because of a McDonald’s McFlurry.

    Uploaded last June, the Vine shows Lauren’s sister, Joanne, in the passenger seat of a car enjoying her dessert. Well, at least until Lauren taps the brakes.

    Since then, the Vine has been viewed more than 40 million times, which means millions of people have seen Joanne choke on a spoon from McDonald’s. Thankfully, Joanne was OK.

    The power of the Internet.

    H/T HelloGiggles

    Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

  • 'Connect 4 Life' To Provide Phones For Homeless LGBT Youth
    “Connect 4 Life” is a compelling new initiative from the LGBT Technology Institute that aims to provide homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth in Washington, D.C. with mobile phones.

    The intention of the project is not only to reconnect these youth to the world, but to understand the impact of mobile connectivity for at-risk youth. With LGBT youth being disproportionately affected by homelessness, the effects of “Connect 4 Life” could be far-reaching.

    “There are more than 650,000 homeless LGBT youth in America, many with no reliable way to connect with services, support networks, supportive organizations, prospective employers, or medical care,” Allyson Robinson, director of the LGBT Technology Institute, said in a statement. “A growing body of research shows that having a mobile phone can help keep these young people safer and get them off the streets faster.”

    “Connect 4 Life” will provide 25 homeless youth in the D.C. area with a mobile phone through Cricket Wireless. For more about the LGBT Technology Institute and the “Connect 4 Life” project head here.

  • Koichi Uchimura Invents Creepy Talking Girlfriend Pillow
    Pillows are great if you’re sleeping, but, frankly, their conversational skills are lacking.

    Japanese inventor Koichi Uchimura has attempted to solve that problem by developing the “Ita-Supo,” a talking pillow that verbally responds to the user’s touch, RocketNews24.com reports.

    The pillowcase features the face and torso of a blonde female anime character on the outside and two sensors placed in pouches located in the breast and crotch area.

    Massage the pillow’s cartoon breasts and it will coo in delight, saying things like, “What if I start loving you even more than I already do?” according to Anime News Network. Get too grabby and you will hear the Japanese equivalent of “Hey! That hurts!” or “Not there!”

    Uchimura is currently raising money to market the “Ita-Supo” through a crowd-funding campaign. People can purchase it for around $167, but be warned: Your other pillows could get jealous.

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  • Are There Too Many Cooks In The VR Kitchen?
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    If this isn’t the year that virtual reality hardware makes it into the consumer market it won’t be for a lack of options. In fact if there’s anything that’s becoming obvious as the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco ramps up is that there just might be too many cooks in the virtual kitchen.

    First let’s take a quick look at all the players in the space:

    The Current Cast

    • Oculus VR: owned by Facebook, leader of the pack for the past two years.
    • Sony: stepped into the limelight with Project Morpheus at last year’s GDC.
    • Samsung: partnered with Oculus to release the Gear VR, the first major commercially available mobile VR device.
    • Microsoft: announced its HoloLens program last month, an AR push.
    • Magic Leap: has built up major hype for its still mysterious take on AR and took a half-billion in financing in a Google-led round recently.
    • Valve/HTC: the just-announced Vive is a partnership of the leading PC gaming platform holder with the mobile hardware maker.
    • GameFace Labs: smaller outfit focused on mobile VR.
    • Razer: popular gaming hardware maker that has released its own spec for head mounted displays called Open-Source Virtual Reality.
    • Google: running the Cardboard program over at Android which has third party support, recently announced a partnership with Mattel to make ViewMaster branded mobile VR adaptors for Android devices. Also supporting Vive.

    Waiting In The Wings

    • Apple: because they’ll need to do something if the Watch is a dud, and they’ve got patents on file.

    These are just the contenders that I can recall off the top of my head on minimal caffeine intake. There are definitely even smaller companies at the margins, all working on both the core hardware and everything that might connect to virtual and augmented reality experiences.

    My first question: what the hell is Google doing? They seem to be all over the map on this one…but I guess that’s par for the course from the company that brought us mobile fragmentation. They’re betting on so many horses you’d think they were trying to own the whole track… and maybe they are.

    Magic Leap, one of their horses, is more of an AR play which puts them into direct competition with Microsoft’s HoloLens. But let’s not be coy here: AR and VR is going to converge into one device, because no one is going to want to own a full Rock Band kit worth of alt-reality peripherals. (Unless it makes you feel like you can fly, in which case: up, up, and away!)

    The buzz from the HTC/Valve team-up is huge. This isn’t just because they’ve been showing the kit behind closed doors all week ahead of the press embargoes that lifted today. It’s because Valve has been grinding on these programs in private for years now, and even members of Oculus VR’s exec team have been impressed with previous iterations of Valve’s hardware.

    On top of that, the word is that Valve’s VR controller scheme is brilliant. Oculus hasn’t cracked that nut yet. However, Valve didn’t exactly reboot the universe with last year’s Steam Controller for PC gaming. If anything, that initiative seemed to have run out of… yeah… I’ll just let that one go.

    HTC and Valve have hung a release date of Fall for the Vive, which puts an emphasis on a more embodied experience. The “holodeck” word has been thrown about a lot in the write-ups that hit today. There’s a catch, however: you still have to be tethered to a computer.

    Now I’ve used a VR rig that allowed me to walk around while being tethered. Someone had to hold on to the cable to make sure I didn’t trip over it. There’s no way in hell that’s a viable mainstream commercial product. So either the Vive is going to go through a rapid evolution in the months ahead or Valve and HTC are going to unleash a product only the hardcore gaming audience will love.

    Given the ad campaign they’ve worked up and the content partners they’ve announced (HBO and Lionsgate) that can’t be the only demographic they have their eyes on.

    All this is exciting on one level, but from a mainstream adoption point of view all this hardware is a nightmare. There’s little in the way of killer apps that have been announced on any platform so far. The few that seem to have emerged in the early going–like Eve: Valkrie–are already headed towards a platform agnostic status.

    What we could wind up with is a fair number of PC games that have VR support turned on as part of their release, but fewer experiences that are designed from the ground up for the new platforms. If we wind up with four or more serious contenders by the holiday season it’s easy to imagine the general public just sitting on their wallets until a leader emerges… and developers losing their shirts after making bad bets.

    So what I’m looking for out of this week’s GDC news, and in the months we have between now and the Electronics Entertainment Expo, is two or three platform exclusive pieces of content. They could be games. They could be films. Whatever they are they need to be exclusive, and thus make the case for why I should strap one mobile phone screen to my face over all the others.

    Public media’s TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

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  • #DigitalAfterlife
    “Rest in peace” may no longer be the appropriate and literal sentiment towards the deceased if Facebook and other technology companies have anything to say about it. The phrase “and live on in your digital afterlife” may have to be attached to it. While I doubt those will ever be the words spoken, it just may be more accurate for many. I’m not quite sure whether I think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I am positive that it’s not for me to judge. And while I am also sure that everyone mourns differently, those differences have already begun to take a digital twist of sorts.

    Facebook recently extended the afterlife of its users by giving them the ability to have someone else continue running their account after death. The company’s announcement has added more fuel to the already burning debate about what should happen to your online presence when you die.

    Previously, upon a user’s death, Facebook had only allowed for the memorialization of his or her page. The account was locked and no one was allowed to log in. Now, the company has expanded the rights of its users by allowing them to decide whether they would like to appoint someone to manage their account after death. This person, known as a Legacy Contact, has the power to post on the person’s page, respond to new friend requests, and can even update the profile picture and cover photo.

    While Facebook may be the first major social media platform to allow users to transfer control of their account to another individual upon death, more services are in development to keep users active after death. LIVESON, which is in beta testing right now, is a service whose slogan is “when your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.” As you undoubtedly guessed, the company will keep your Twitter feed going by tweeting on your behalf after you’re gone. By using artificial technology to analyze your original Twitter feed it is able to learn your style and syntax so it can effectively post as you. LIVESON does require users to nominate an executor to decide whether to keep their Twitter account live. Honestly, I don’t get this one. Seems to be getting excessive.

    The troubling aspect of both Facebook’s policy and LIVESON is that they allow for someone else — in one case a person, in the other a machine — to assume the identity of another person, which could lead to confusion, disagreements and of course internet trolls. What happens if a Legacy Contact decides to post content that family members consider hurtful or offensive? This seems a likely possibility considering that prior to instituting this policy Facebook received complaints from relatives of the deceased for the memorialization of pages alone, as some family members did not want their loved one’s profile still viewable after death.

    Both policies have not only social, but also legal implications as well. Facebook’s policy gives the Legacy Contact the power to delete the Facebook account. If for some reason there were a disagreement between a Facebook user’s Legacy Contact and a legally-appointed executor, what would happen if the Legacy Contact were to delete the account before the executor obtained what was needed from it?

    Today almost everyone, will inevitably leave a substantial digital impact. With countless photos, videos, tweets, posts, comments, eternal Facebook profiles and never-ending tweets, our online presence is sure to remain long after we are gone.

    And with the continuing advancements in technology, one has to wonder, what’s next? Our own personal avatar that looks exactly like us, sounds like us, and depicts our mannerisms perfectly? Actually, yes, and not only will he be able to emulate your personality, but he’ll also be able to speak with your family and friends when you no longer can.

    Eterni.me, which the site says will be launching soon, collects and processes the digital material that you create throughout your lifetime (videos, photos, writing, etc.) and processes it using complex artificial intelligence algorithms. The company is then able to generate a virtual “you,” or rather, an interactive avatar that mimics your personality — or at least, the parts of your personality you displayed online. It seems fair to assume that many of us censor ourselves to maintain a particular image within the online community, meaning our avatar would mimic the censored version of us, and not necessarily our true selves.

    With all of this focus on using technology to keep people around forever — at least virtually — are we hindering our own natural ability to move on? It’s one thing to set up a page for mourning and remembrance, but it’s another thing entirely to create an avatar to continually interact with. Is this a step too far? It seems to me that these interactions would be limited and superficial, much like the current social media interactions of the living.

    Perhaps instead of trying to recreate some digital version of the people we loved, we should go the old-fashioned route and simply remember them, as we knew them, and more importantly, as we saw them. No matter how remarkable the computer generation is, there are certain special attributes a machine cannot emulate, that are best left to human recollection — like the glint in your wife’s eye when you proposed, or the sound of your father’s car pulling into the driveway after work. These moments, sounds, and small yet significant details will bring back more than a memory, they will bring back a good feeling that no avatar can mimic.

  • Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Released with New Features

    The Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone has been updated today, shedding the “preview” tag and added a few new features for users.  The update, version 8.1.8.13 for those keeping score at home, is what everyone should consider the first release of the app given it has been in preview (i.e. beta) for many, many months.  If you have the Remote Desktop app installed on your device, the update can be installed right over it so no need to uninstall/reinstall. Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now The update bring two primary new features to the

    The post Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Released with New Features appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • How YouTubers Became A New Breed Of Celebrity That Hollywood Stars Can't Touch
    From releasing books to interviewing President Barack Obama, it’s safe to say YouTube stars are more than just Internet personalities. For teens, they’re today’s role models.

    According to a study by Defy Media, 62 percent of Americans ages 13 to 24 consume digital content because it “makes them feel good about themselves.” Only 40 percent reported the same for television.

    Being relatable plays a vital role in the popularity of online stars. In a video from Defy Media that compares celebrities and YouTubers, one teen described an actor as simply “a body with a script.” Another teen said YouTubers are more interesting because they “show everyone who they are.”

    This engagement helps YouTubers connect with and motivate viewers, especially teens.

    When asked if they thought they could be YouTube stars, 56 percent of 13-year-old participants believed they could. Not far behind, 55 percent of participants ages 14 to 17 and 51 percent ages 18 to 24 thought they could do the same.

    How many believed they could become television or movie stars? The numbers decreased to an average of 40 percent.

    By being relatable and establishing relationships with viewers, YouTubers are creating a new kind of celebrity. And the rest of Hollywood is falling behind.

    H/T Business Insider

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  • (VIDEO) MySpace Userbase Is Now Viant's Giant Ad Targeting Machine

    MySpace may have struggled to retain relevance over the last few years, but its latest owner recently rolled up the social network in to a proposition it hopes advertisers will find appealing.

    Interactive Media Holdings, which also owns Specific Media, Vindico and Xumo, has reacast as Viant Ad Cloud.

    “We realised, four or five years ago, we weren’t able to execute as well as we wanted for our advertisers anymore,” chief revenue officer Jeff Collins concedes to Beet.TV. “A lot of the data was outdated.

    “We set out to create a new foundation not as reliant on proxies and cookies but on a direct relationship with the consumer… a project to map out the country.”

    Viant now leverages around a billion of a total 1.2 billion user account profiles available to it, some augmented by improvements brought by Experian, to let advertisers target ads not to devices but to people, regardless of which device they use.

    Collins was interviewed by Beet.TV at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting.

    Beet.TV coverage of the IAB meeting was sponsored by SpotXchange. Please find Beet.TV’s coverage of the event here.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • Afterlight Now A Universal App for Windows and Windows Phone

    The popular Windows Phone photo editing app Afterlight is now a universal app and available for your Windows 8.1 PC or Tablet.  Afterlight is a powerful photo editing app that allows you to make quick edit and adjustments to your photos with a load of different filters, textures and frames.  To this point the .99 Cent app has been only available on Windows Phone but the update today, version 1.1.0 for those keeping score at home, is universal.  That means if you have already bought the app for Windows Phone you now have it available for your PC or Tablet. 

    The post Afterlight Now A Universal App for Windows and Windows Phone appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

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