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Mobile Technology News, November 23, 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.

  • This FCC Commissioner Did A Reddit Chat. It Did Not Go Well.
    WASHINGTON — On Friday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn took to Reddit to do an “Ask Me Anything” session and answer questions about her job. But she soon found herself on the defensive against Reddit users angry about how the FCC has handled net neutrality rulemaking.

    The FCC is currently weighing whether to classify the Internet like a utility and restrict Internet service providers from charging content providers for faster Internet access. This month, President Barack Obama announced his support for that approach, known as “Title II.” But net neutrality advocates are concerned that the FCC might go with a different proposal, which would allow for some degree of paid prioritization. Opponents of this plan say that it would threaten the openness of the Internet by making it harder for smaller sites to compete.

    When asked about her position on net neutrality, Clyburn, who is one of five FCC commissioners appointed by the president, said that she supports “a free and open Internet.” She pointed out that in 2010, she supported Title II and a ban on paid prioritization, which is what Obama is asking for now. But she did not explicitly say that she still supports this plan. Instead, she wrote that she has “many of the same concerns I did four years ago, but have vowed to keep an open mind.” Clyburn did not go into detail about what those concerns are.

    Later, she said that “if we think the right policy goal is to ban paid prioritization, we should determine the appropriate legal authority to do so,” contending that “Title II on its own does not automatically ban paid prioritization.” A commenter dismissed her statement as a “talking point.”

    Over the summer, the FCC accepted nearly 4 million public comments about net neutrality — an overwhelming number of which opposed allowing Internet service providers to charge for faster Internet access. One commenter asked Clyburn if the FCC listens to the public. She responded, “Public comments absolutely influence the FCC deliberations, including rule makings.”

    Another user asked: “How can we (the Internet!) make ourselves heard in this process? Because it begins to seem like the e-mail campaigns and the phone calls do not have a large effect on convincing the FCC to reclassify ISPs under Title II?”

    Clyburn responded: “I disagree completely. Your voices are being heard and your comments are being read.”

    But many Redditors didn’t agree, complaining about the number of Clyburn’s answers and their substance. For their responses, check out the full discussion here.

    Clyburn’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Igor Bobic contributed reporting.

  • Amazon Signs Lease For Possible Store In Manhattan
    NEW YORK — Soon, going to Amazon may mean more than just typing in a URL.

    The online retail giant has signed a lease for a massive space in midtown Manhattan that some speculate could become its first brick-and-mortar store.

    Located in the heart of the Herald Square shopping district, the space occupies about 470,000 square feet in 7 W. 34 St., a small office tower.

    Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the building, said in a press release Thursday that the lease will last 17 years.

    “We have leased this building primarily as corporate office space and we intend to sublease to other tenants the ground floor retail space,” Kelly Cheeseman, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement to The Huffington Post on Saturday.

    Cheeseman did not respond to repeated questions about whether a portion of the space will be used as a storefront.

    No plans for an experimental brick-and-mortar Amazon store have been announced, but an anonymously sourced report in The Wall Street Journal last month claimed that the space would house the company’s first physical store. According to the report, the space would function as a warehouse, with a limited stock for same-day deliveries within New York City, pickup, and exchanges and returns on products.

    Wendy Kopsick, a spokeswoman for Vornado, directed questions to Amazon.

    This past Friday, Amazon workers drove around New York in a refitted food truck, selling tablets, e-readers and Fire TV sticks to customers on the street — which, if nothing else, suggests the company is willing to experiment with the distribution side of things.

    Amazon doesn’t only sell online. It also is deploying the food truck model. pic.twitter.com/Th01CCHJ60

    — Emily Steel (@emilysteel) November 21, 2014

    Opening a physical store would come with certain risks. It costs money to lease and manage a space, and to hire staff for a new operation. Despite founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’s seemingly ceaseless quest to explore new ventures — one reason why the 20-year-old online bookseller now produces tablets and streams TV shows — the physical retail market has eluded him. In many states, Amazon customers avoid paying a sales tax on purchases because the company does not have a physical outpost within those states’ borders. (New York, however, does levy a tax on Amazon buys.)

    Still, e-commerce makes up only 6.5 percent of the $4.73 trillion retail market, according to the research firm eMarketer. And amid calls by investors to focus on profitability, that other 93.5 percent may look appetizing to Amazon.

  • This Is What You Would've Seen If You Flew Around Inside The Buffalo Snowstorm
    While most people in the Buffalo, New York area were hunkered down this week as over six feet of snow piled up outside their windows, James Grimaldi was out seeing the sights, courtesy of his drone.

    The West Seneca man flew his drone into the storm on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post — navigating the device around snow-laden trees for a bird’s-eye view of his neighborhood, all while snow fell at a rate of 4 inches an hour.

    Grimaldi flew the drone again after the storm cleared, capturing yet more dramatic footage, which can be seen below.

    WATCH the Buffalo snowstorm drone footage above, and the post-storm video below:

  • Microsoft Music Deals App for Windows and Windows Phone Updated

    The Music Deals app for Windows and Windows Phone has received a minor update this week, brining several new features including Share, Pin, Home and Help buttons. For those who aren’t familiar with the Music Deals app, it is a relatively new app that brings deals to Xbox Music users weekly. Music Deals gives you access to the best music at 80% or more off! Each week, you’ll find a top new release for $.99, and 100 or more great albums for $1.99 or less. Music Deals will keep you informed about the latest and greatest deals. The updates in

    The post Microsoft Music Deals App for Windows and Windows Phone Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • 'Yo Jackass, We All Think Our Kid Is the Cutest'
    As social media has mutated into a ravenous, many tentacled time-eater, news from our friends about their families’ triumphs and trials has become omnipresent, unrelenting — a never-ending vacation slide show from hell. As a result, every day there’s a new complaint from those who follow: too much self-promotion in my feed. Too many photos of other people’s posh vacations. Too many selfies! No one wants to see what you had for lunch/what your baby had for lunch/how cute your cats are. And yet the posts keep coming.

    “For the love of God, stop posting 9,000 pictures of your baby on Facebook,” pleads an author on Chicago Now. “You know the type I’m talking about. That mom who genuinely thinks her baby is cuter than all the others.” Indeed, social media and babies are a particularly dangerous combination. A 2010 study by the Internet security firm AVG Technologies found that 92 percent of American children under the age of two have some kind of digital profile, with images of them posted online. But posts chronicling the every adorable move of our friends’ babies and kids certainly aren’t the whole of the online offensiveness: Elite Daily lists the 50 most annoying people you encounter on Instagram, including the Internet Model, the Fashionista and the Rich Kid — and I can certainly list a few more — while others offer endless advice on how to politely ask your connections to be less boastful, less prolific and less, well, annoying.

    Part of the problem is that social media just makes sharing — oversharing — way too easy. A click of the button on a digital camera, a quick download, and the picture or video clip is flying to your Facebook feed. But there are also plenty of studies supporting the addictive nature of social media, and how obsessive posting works directly on the pleasure centers of the brain.

    And yet the real problem here is not that we’re an addiction-addled culture of oversharers, though that may indeed be true. Instead, it’s that we’re a culture of complainers. We use complaints as icebreakers or to bond with others: What’s with this weather? What’s with our boss? We use complaints to establish rapport. Studies have suggested that complaining adds years to your life by helping us release tension. But we also complain because it’s in our nature, and we’re more apt to complain than to do something about it. Complaining about the social media habits makes this ever more clear, and has become a favorite topic of conversation: Who’s most annoying in your feed? Because of course, the solution to dealing with the oversharers clogging our feed is painfully obvious: Unfollow them. Stop engaging. Delete.

    But can we? Or have the followers become as obsessed and addicted as the oversharers, the ones who do it for the “Likes”? We tend to issue blame on the people who post, but we’re hooked, too. Obsessive posting, after all, is a result of obsessive following — if there were no audience at the ready, there would be no need or reason to post. Consider as an example the end of relationships that take place over social media, from that of your college friends to that of representative Mark Sanford, who ended his engagement to María Belén Chapur via public Facebook post. We’re not talking about the change in Relationship Status from “Married” to something else, but long, drawn out, intimate details that we’re shocked and horrified to read — and yet read we do. recently, I followed along as two old friends ended their long-term relationship by posting all the last details of each other’s transgressions. I knew that this was not information I wanted to have. And yet I read it. All of it.

    This, of course, is what keeps people overposting. It’s not their inherent flaw, or simply their desire to be heard. It’s our willingness to listen. The only way people will stop oversharing, or badly sharing, is to refuse to be their audience. That’s not something we’re willing to do. So instead we complain, and pretend to wonder what it is we can do about all these selfies filling our feeds. But if you really want your friends, colleagues and the strangers who appear in your feed to stop being so obnoxious, inappropriate and self-promotional, you know what to do. It’s as simple as hitting Unfollow.

  • If You Blast Your Wine With Sound Waves, Does It Taste Better? We Tried To Find Out
    Here’s a weird one to bust out at your next dinner party: A new machine says it can make your wine taste better by blasting it with sonic energy.

    The Sonic Decanter recently reached its $85,000 goal on Kickstarter, with more than 700 investors jumping in to support the project. (There are still a couple of days left for others to nudge their way in for a discounted rate on the product.) It purports to use ultrasound energy to change the molecular properties of non-carbonated red and white whites, making the drink “smoother” and more flavorful.

    Wine connoisseurs may wonder exactly how this is superior to a normal decanting process, which involves pouring wine into a separate bottle to remove sediment. According to a video on the Kickstarter page, the Sonic Decanter removes oxygen from the wine — the opposite of what normal decanting does — which supposedly helps preserve flavor for longer.

    We found the Sonic Decanter to be something of a mixed bag, at least in its current, pre-production form. The makers sent The Huffington Post a prototype unit to put to the test. Editors from HuffPost Tech and HuffPost Taste teamed up for a blind tasting: We poured eight cups of “pre-decanted” white wine and eight cups of “post-decanted” white, then did the same for the red. Here’s what we discovered.


    The wines we purchased weren’t fancy — but supposedly, that doesn’t matter where the Sonic Decanter is concerned. (Photos by Damon Beres for The Huffington Post)

    First of all: The process takes a bit of time. You have to wait 20 minutes for the Sonic Decanter to operate on a bottle of red, and 15 minutes for a bottle of white. During that time, the prototype made a bit of noise, but Mike Coyne — CEO of Dionysus Technology Concepts, the company that will make the Sonic Decanter — told HuffPost via email that the final product will be sound-engineered and quieter.

    Click to listen: Our Sonic Decanter prototype was a bit noisy, though you probably wouldn’t notice if you had a few folks over.

    By and large, our testers seemed to enjoy the red wine after it had been through the Sonic Decanter process. We didn’t tell them which cups had been through the Sonic Decanter and which hadn’t, but we did take note of their comments. Our tasters didn’t mention any dramatic differences, but a couple of people said the non-decanted wine seemed “more acidic,” and someone else noted that it seemed to be “missing something.” One editor added that the non-decanted wine had a “harsher aftertaste.”

    The white wine fared considerably less well in our taste test. Before starting the Sonic Decanter, you pour in two cups of cold water for the bottle to rest in. But remember, the process takes a full 15 minutes — enough time for a drink to warm up a bit, even under normal conditions — and we also noticed that the machine itself seemed to warm both the water and the wine bottle during the decanting process. That’s not great for a glass of white.


    Before you use the Sonic Decanter, you fill it with cold water.

    All of our white wine tasters noticed the warmth immediately and said it made drinking the wine less pleasant. Those who weren’t too distracted by the temperature noted that the decanted white was “smoother” with “less bite,” but everyone still preferred the cooler glass.

    Coyne didn’t seem too surprised by this outcome. The Sonic Decanter process apparently results in a temperature increase of 3 to 4 degrees for the wine — an effect that Coyne said should not be present in the final product. He also said it’s important to replace the water between each bottle — we added some cool water the second time around, but didn’t switch it out completely — and noted that the wine bottle can be re-chilled after the decanting process.

    In general, he said, people do say they notice the effects more in red wine.

    “Red wine has more components than white wines that are affected by the Sonic Decanter process. Therefore many testers report that the improvement is more noticeable in red wines,” Coyne told HuffPost.

    Is there actually anything to the science of the Sonic Decanter? John Giannini, a vineyard and winery consultant who teaches winemaking classes at Missouri State University, told HuffPost that he wasn’t totally sure.

    “I’m not an expert on sound waves,” said Giannini, “but intuitively it seems they would disrupt polymerized compounds, which would have a negative effect.”

    He did say that because the red wine tasted better to some testers, there might be merit to the idea.

    The Sonic Decanter goes into production next year and is expected to ship in May 2015.

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