Friday, July 27, 2012

Zuckerberg denies the Facebook phone.What’s the evidence?


facebook phone
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday in the company’s first-ever earnings call that “it wouldn’t  really make much sense” for the social networking monolith to build its own smartphone.
A “Facebook phone” has been rumored for some time, however — and many analysts regard its appearance as a matter of when, not if.

So what’s the evidence that a mobile device based entirely around the social network is on its way?
Back in November of last year, the scuttlebutt originally reported by All Things D was that Facebook and HTC were working together to develop a phone codenamed “Buffy” that would hit store shelves in 12 to 18 months — as soon as this coming fall.

Buffy was said to run on a modified version of Android, tweaked heavily to revolve more prominently around Facebook and HTML5 support.

Then The New York Times reported this May that Facebook had hired “more than a half dozen” former Apple engineers who had previously worked on the iPhone or iPad to help build hardware for a Facebook phone. Finally, a Bloomberg report earlier this month reiterated much of what ATD reported in November, but pegged the mysterious “Facebook phone” launch to mid-2013.

The anticipation has grown so great that some designers have already began mocking up Facebook phone concepts (see gallery below).

While Zuckerberg denied the logic of Facebook building a phone, there are plenty of reasons why doing so would, in fact, make a lot of sense.

Facebook has been widely criticized for struggling to adapt to an increasingly mobile web, which most analysts see as dominating the emerging wave of digital life. One hedge fund manager recently predicted that Facebook’s mobile sluggishness would lead to the company virtually disappearing by the year 2020.

A Facebook-centric operating system — on a Facebook-branded smartphone — could go a long way toward capturing more mobile users and ad dollars.

So have all the rumors simply been hot air and will Facebook instead focus its efforts on improving a widely maligned mobile app? Or is Zuckerberg simply hedging his bets with some tricky wordplay, and a Facebook phone is in fact on the way? Let us know your take in the comments.

  1. The Facebook Phone
The Facebook Phone
A Facebook smartphone concept on Yanko Design -- and created by designer Michal Bonikowski -- gives us a look into what the device could potentially look like.

































2. Front Look

Front Look
Featuring a sleek case in Facebook’s signature blue, the device is made from metal and touts a 4.2-inch screen.








 3.Back View 


Back view
It also features a 5-megapixel camera in the front and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera.


4. The Full Concept

Full concept
A look at both sides.

5. Docking Station

Docking ststion
Bonikowski also included in his design a docking and charging station.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Without Social Media, 18% of teens would ‘Stop Communicating’


18% of teens would stop communicating altogether if their favorite social networks shut down. That’s according to a recent survey of American high school and college students by email marketing company AWeber.

According to the survey, 90% of teens are on Facebook, and an astounding 93% of teenagers use mobile phones -– the same amount that use email. 74% of teens are YouTube users and 47% use Skype to keep up with others.

Facebook and Email own almost equal parts of teens’ hearts. With teenagers going for both when they wake up in the morning, while they’re in class, and even while they’re on vacation.

6% of teens thought they might replace their cell phones with a landline or writing more letters if mobile phones suddenly became unavailable. A whopping 18%, however, thought they would stop communicating altogether if their favorite channel of communication disappeared.

Check out the infographic below for a closer look. What would you do if your favorite social network suddenly closed? Let us know in the comments.
 
Teen infographic

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Apple analyst: iPad Mini, iTV are for real


Apple iTV concept

Good news for those of you itching to get your hands on a 7 inch Apple tablet or an Apple Television set— one of the industry’s top analysts expects you’ll see both within the year.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray told attendees at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen that an iPad Mini was “highly likely,” and that he had talked to manufacturers in Asia who are already supplying Apple with components for what we’re still tentatively calling the iTV.

“The TV thing is real,” Munster said. “It’s just a function of time. Some suppliers are more open in talking about it than others.”

His best guess on that timing for iTV? Probably by the end of 2012, possibly launching in 2013. Munster told that early versions of the set would probably still rely on the Apple TV set-top box, but that later versions would have it built in.

As for the 7-inch iPad Mini, Munster says it makes strong business sense for Apple to expand its product line to the low end of the market — it currently has 90% of the 10-inch tablet market, but 75% of the tablet market as a whole. 

But he pointed out that it would be the first example of the company specifically reacting to its competition — from tablets such as the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 — and also the first example of it going against the wishes of its late founder Steve Jobs, who frequently dismissed the idea of a tablet smaller than 10 inches.
           
Fellow panelist Horace Dediu of Asymco also said he expects an iTV very soon, and that it would have a huge impact on the entire entertainment industry.

“The App-ification of TV will unleash forces we can’t imagine,” Dediu said. “Just look at what native apps like Instagram have done to the phone space.”

Munster added that an iTV would help propel Apple’s stock price from where it currently is (in the $600 range) to where he expects it to be (roughly $910).

What impact do you expect from an iPad Mini or iTV? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, July 16, 2012

770,000 users demand YouTube-to-Mp3 conversion


YouTubePhilip Matesanz, a 21-year-old German student studying computer science, believes that it should be easy to convert YouTube videos into downloadable .mp3s. His website, youtube-mp3.org, allows its more than one million daily users to do exactly that.

Google, however, disagrees. Last month, it reportedly sent Matesanz a cease-and-desist, claiming that his site’s function violates YouTube’s terms of service. The site is still up, but it no longer works as advertised.

In response to Google’s threat of legal action, Matesanz did two things: he turned to two experts in Germany to examine his case (they have produced reports defending Matesanz) and he asked his users and supporters to sign an online petition defending his site.

That petition took off like wildfire and now has more than 770,000 signatures from users across the world in just over two weeks.

In the petition, Matesanz draws a historical parallel between Google, YouTube and the content providers of yesteryear:

“For decades, people were allowed to take a private copy of a public broadcast,” reads the petition.

“You could record the radio program with a cassette recorder or make a copy of your favorite movie by using a video recorder. All these techniques have been opposed heavily in its early years by the big media companies who didn’t want the public to have such technology. Several years later history is about to repeat: Google has teamed up with the RIAA to make the same claims against all sorts of online recording tools for their 21th century broadcasting service.”

The core of the dispute involves youtube-mp3.org’s method of creating MP3s.

Google’s cease-and-desist letter reportedly claims that the site violates the terms of service of YouTube’s API, which prohibits using the API for downloading content as opposed to streaming it. However, Matesanz holds that his site doesn’t use the YouTube API, but gets data through another undisclosed means.

At a broader level, the youtube-mp3.org case is an example of the often conflicting interests of content providers and content consumers.

Google and YouTube make money from advertisements included with and alongside content streamed directly from YouTube; that money is lost when consumers convert streaming videos into MP3s. However, hundreds of thousands of YouTube users clearly desire a way to access YouTube audio content in MP3 form (perhaps for offline listening), a service which Google and YouTube do not provide.

When asked for comment, a YouTube spokesperson said, “we have always taken violations of our Terms of Service seriously, and will continue to enforce these Terms of Service against sites that violate them.”

Should Google and YouTube allow all users to download content for offline viewing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Android hits 51.8% market share in U.S.


Android phoneAndroid has a bigger U.S. market share than all other mobile operating systems combined, according to a new report by Nielsen.

Nielsen’s research shows that 51.8% of smart phone owners in the U.S. use an Android handset. Apple’s iOS has a 34.3% market share, and the rest is divided between RIM’s BlackBerry (8.1%) and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 platforms (4.3%).

Symbian and Palm OS both have less than one percent market share: 0.9% and 0.6%, respectively.
This is in line with a recent report, which claimed Android topped 50% market share in February 2012.

Nielsen’s numbers from recent smart phone acquirers (last three months) paint an even rosier picture for Android and iOS, with their respective market shares jumping to 54.6% and 36.3%, at the expense of everyone else.

Digging a little bit deeper into those numbers reveals Apple’s dominance on the market, as it is by far the biggest manufacturer out there with its 34.3% share. Samsung is number two with a 17% share, followed by HTC, Motorola and RIM. It’s also interesting to note that overall, Nokia is bested by both Samsung and HTC even when it comes to Windows 7 handsets.

We’ll see how these numbers will change after two extremely important devices hit the market: Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Apple’s upcoming iPhone, probably due to be launched this fall.

Hungry? Apple adds ‘Food and Drink’ section to app store


Apple app categories
Thanks to the growing popularity of food and drink-related apps, Apple is adding a dedicated section for the category to its App Store.

“Food & Drink” joins other app categories such as education, entertainment and finance as a part of an effort to help Apple device users find programs based on their area of interest.

The section lists the Food Network app as its top paid app, followed by Allrecipes.com, Fast Paeleo and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Apps from companies such as Pizza Hut and Starbucks are also listed in the section.

Apple is no stranger to adding new categories to the App Store. In March, it added a Catalogs section for visually-rich shopping catalogs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Google releases migration tool for Google+ circles and connections


In a blog post on his Google+ page, Google+ Product Manager Ronald Ho announced a new tool to transfer circles from one account to another that is now available through Google Takeout. In an overview of the long-requested feature, Google explained the tool would migrate “circle names, circle members, “your circles” settings, and people and pages you’ve blocked or ignored.” However, Google noted there is a 7-day waiting period before a transfer is initiated, and both profiles will have limited functionality until the transfer is complete:

-There’s a 7 day waiting period before your transfer begins.

-To cancel the transfer before it starts, sign in to either account on Google+. Then click Cancel transfer at the bottom of the page. Note that you cannot cancel using a mobile interface.

-If the source or destination accounts are managed by an organization, the account administrator may restrict your ability to transfer your connections and/or use Google+.

-You won’t be able to use this tool with these accounts again for 6 months.

-Once the transfer begins, it cannot be cancelled or undone.

As for limited functionality, both accounts will not be able to share content on Google+ during the transfer—nor can they add, remove, block, or ignore people in circles and elsewhere. Google continued by explaining the result of a transfer once complete:

When the transfer is complete, your circles, blocks, and ignores are copied from the source account to the destination account. Circles in the destination account with the same names are merged. Content from your source account (such as profile information, posts, or comments) is not transferred to the destination account. Similarly, authorship information and Google+ pages that you manage with your source account will not be transferred to the destination account. However, this content, pages, and authorship information still exist in your source account… After the transfer is complete, your source account profile will still exist in your source account. However, it will be replaced with your destination account in other people’s circles.

If you are interested in checking out the new tool, you can do so by clicking “Transfer your Google+ connections to another account” at Google Takeout now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New York City is turning payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots



Payphones in New York City have largely been made obsolete by the fact that almost everybody’s got a cell phone for staying in touch on-the-go. Luckily for the long-forgotten phones that still dot the city’s streets, they’re about to get a twenty-first-century upgrade.

New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications introduced on Wednesday the city’s first payphones-turned-WI-Fi hotspots. They’re free of charge for any nearby New Yorker (or visitor) to use for connecting his smart phone, tablet or laptop to the Internet. Internet services are being provided in cooperation with Van Wagner and Titan.

So far, 10 payphones spread across Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn have become WI-Fi-equipped as part of a pilot program. Other WI-Fi payphones are being planned for The Bronx and Staten Island. In total, New York City has 12,360 payphones that could become hotspots.

In a statement, the city promised that “no personal information will be gathered and no advertising will be presented as part of the pilot program.”

People headed to the payphone hotspot on Broadway and 49th St. to test its connection. The payphone was identifiable by a banner advertising “free WI-Fi here.” Otherwise, nothing distinguished the Wi-Fi payphone from any other unit.


Connecting was easy: They simply selected “NYC-PUBLIC-WIFI” from the list of available networks, and then agreed to the terms and conditions of the service. Standing right beside the payphones, we recorded speeds of 6.08mpbs down and .07mpbs up.

Those aren’t lightning-fast numbers, but for a free and public service, they’re not too shabby — just don’t plan on downloading a full-length movie through a payphone hotspot any time soon. Oh, and don’t cross the street — there, you’ll find only 1.02mbps down and .06mbps up.

City officials hailed the project as a step forward in expanding high-speed Internet access for residents.

“Expanding public access to broadband technology across the five boroughs is it wired or wireless is at the heart of the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to promote greater digital inclusion for New Yorkers,” said Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul N. Merchant. “Today’s announcement does just that, while also allowing us to enhance existing telecommunications infrastructure –- public payphones –- in an innovative way.”

The City is also asking residents to submit ideas regarding the future of the city’s payphones, as the current provider agreements end in late 2014.

“As we begin assessing the future of the payphone in New York City, this pilot should help us gauge public interest in the amenities the next generation of devices might offer,” said Merchant.

New York City also offers free Wi-Fi in public parks and libraries across the city. How else can cities expand Wi-Fi access for their citizens? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Google offers free online course to turn you into a 'power searcher'


GoogleEveryone knows how to do a simple Google search, but do you know how to read pages in languages you’ve never studied or track down the location of a friend’s picture they took on vacation ages ago?
Google wants to show you more tips on how to get the most out of its search results.

The search engine giant will be offering a free online, community-based course starting on Tuesday that teaches people different search strategies to find what they need faster and more efficiently.
Google — which first opened registration for the class in June — will offer six different 50-minute courses called "Power Searching with Google” over the next two weeks. Classes can be taken at your own leisure within that time period.

The lessons, which will be led by Google Senior Research Scientist Dan Russell, will show attendees how to improve their search skills and use of various tools, including Google Groups, Google+ and Hangouts. 

“This is open to everyone, from beginner searchers to people who already know some of the tricks of the trade,” Russell told that “For example; you can use the search box as a calculator or filter for images by color. This course is aimed at helping people to learn new search techniques so they can find what they need faster, no matter how they currently use search.”

Those that finish the course will receive a printable certificate of completion emailed to them.
“Sign-ups have been great so far, but we hope more people will continue to register,” Russell said.

“We will be using lots of different Google technology to provide a rich, social, educational environment that should be a great learning experience.”

The company has recently been relatively candid about how a Google search works. In April, a Google software engineer head detailed in a YouTube video how Google scours the web on a daily basis to provide the most up-to-date results to users. 

In May, it released an infographic about how a Google search travels around the world to bring the latest results.

Most recently, it launched a video discussing how startups can master SEO in under 10 minutes.

Will you attend Google’s free online courses? What would you want to learn from the company? Let us know in the comments below.

Microsoft: Windows 8 shipping at the end of October


Windows 8 screens
Microsoft has finally set a date — actually a couple of dates — for delivery of Microsoft Windows 8 to customers. The eagerly anticipated operating system overhaul is set to “RTM” (Release to Manufacturing) the first week in August and then ship at the end of October.

These dates are not particularly surprising, since the Redmond software giant typically delivers operating system updates in October. Still, there was always the worry, especially among Microsoft partners that are anxious to bundle the latest OS in their new computers and tablets that the Metro-design-sporting update could ship too late for inclusion in holiday-buying-season systems. Microsoft revealed its schedule during its annual Windows Partner conference in Toronto, Canada.

Not only will Windows 8 ship on partner devices in late October, but the company revealed that Windows 8 will, at the same time, ship in 109 countries and 231 languages.

With almost four months between now and the Windows 8 ship date, though, Microsoft is trying to ensure that people don’t stop buying Windows PCs and announced that any Windows 7 PC purchased between now and October is eligible for a $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. This is the second upgrade deal Microsoft has announced in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Microsoft introduced a $39.99 upgrade program for Windows versions going back to Windows XP.

What’s unclear right now is if Windows 8′s new delivery timeline also includes the tablet-friendly Windows RT edition. That timing will also likely trigger availability of the Microsoft-built Surface Tablet.


Windows 8 start screen preview

Microsoft also revealed Monday that the Commerce Engine for Windows App store goes live at RTM in August, which means developers can sell and consumers can buy apps in the app store.

Now that you know the timing, are you gearing up to buy Windows 8? Perhaps you were planning on buying a back-to-school PC. Does the $14.99 upgrade deal appeal to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Analyst: Apple will release $299 iPad Mini in October


iPad MiniA research analyst claims that Apple will unveil a 7.85-inch iPad Mini with 8GB of memory in October.

Fresh off the heels of Google’s own 7-inch tablet, new rumors are still firing about the same-sized iPad. Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves suggests that the 7.85-inch iPad Mini will debut in Q4.

“We anticipate an entry-level 7.80-inch iPad with 8GB of NAND capacity to price at $299 with an initial gross margin of 31%,” wrote Hargreaves, in a research note posted last Thursday.
Hargreaves went on to claim that the iPad Mini will probably cannibalize some of the larger iPad sales. Hargreaves told CNET that Apple would most likely kill off the $399 iPad 2 to make way for a 16GB iPad Mini.

“We estimate Apple will sell 10.0 million 7.85-inch iPads in FQ1 (Dec. 2012) and 35.2 million in all of F2013,” he said. “Based on estimated component order volume, we believe our iPad Mini unit estimates are well within Apple’s production capacity. We anticipate 25% cannibalization of the larger 9.7-inch iPad (for every four 7.85-inch iPads added, we reduced our 9.7-inch iPad estimate by one), so our total F2013 iPad estimate increases to 91.6 million from 65.2 million.”

Rumors of a smaller iPad started circulating when Tim Cook took the reins as Apple CEO. Cook’s predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, famously had a dim view of the 7-inch form factor.

In recent months, TabTimes has learned that Apple has reportedly been testing a 7.85-inch iPad at its offices in Cupertino, while other sources (including Samsung) have claimed that the device could pop up as early as September.