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Monday
Mar312014

Yahoo! poaching YouTube content creators?

Yahoo has made a number of radical changes since Marissa Mayer took over the helm back in May 2012, Including the acquisition of Tumblr for $1.1 billion in May of last year. Since then Yahoo! Have rebranded many of their services such as Flickr and more recently their logo. In Yahoo's latest bid to stay relevant in a world where Google and other giants dominate they are turning their attentions to online video creators and in particular YouTube content creators.

Yahoo! Is reportedly looking to create an alternative to YouTube has reportedly began to try and lure away some of the most successful YouTube creators to join them with the promise of making more money. Yahoo hopes that offering better ad revenues, guaranteed advertisement rates and extensive marketing will lure away some of the content creators away from YouTube and the mighty Google.

Marissa has been particularly interested in video since taking over at Yahoo! and has signed some big partnership deals and releasing content through a new app called Yahoo! Screen. In today’s report by ReCode the new video competitor would have a similar focus and look to poach big YouTube stars rather than launching and open to all service. Whilst there is no solid date for a launch Yahoo! is said to be launching this new service in the coming months.

What are you thoughts on Yahoo’s venture into YouTube’s territory? As usual we would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.  

 

Friday
Mar282014

Will you be switching off for Earth Hour?

We take many things for granted these days from running water to electricity. Each year the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) runs a campaign called Earth Hour which takes place on Saturday 29th March this year from 8:30pm - 9:30pm. The campaign encourages us to turn of the lights for just an hour to support the environment.

As well as individuals switching off there is also many organised Earth Hour events where large cities around the world go into darkness to show their support for the cause. If you would like to find out if there is one near you simply visit the website earthhour.org for more details.

As a first this year the organisation has also set up a crowd-funding platform called Earth Hour Blue which lets you pledge your support for one of the many excellent conservation projects. These range from saving forests in Madagascar to protecting the panda’s in china.

Earth Hour has got me reflecting on my use of technology and the amount of electricity that I consume in a day. So this year I will be making a conscious effort to do a bit more and will be switching off not just the lights but all technology including my laptop, smartphone and television. I will likely take this time to either read a book by candlelight or good old fashioned socialising with family.

Will you be turning off the lights for Earth Hour this year or doing anything else in regards to the World Wildlife Fund’s campaign? As usual we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Have a great weekend.

 

Thursday
Mar272014

New Image features on Twitter

Twitter announced yesterday that it was rolling out some new features for images on Twitter. The first of the new features is the ability to add multiple images to a tweet (up to a total of 4) however this is currently only available on the official Twitter app for iOS with Android coming soon. At present it doesn’t seem possible to upload multiple images via the web interface, whether this will roll out or not remains to be seen.

Another feature rolled out is Image tagging, a feature that Facebook has had for a number of years now. You can now tag up to ten friends in a photo in a move which Twitter says makes photo sharing more social. Again this feature only appears to be available on the official Twitter apps for iOS and later Android and is not available on the web version.

To tag someone in a photo simply tap ‘Who’s in this photo’ and then type the persons username. Twitter will then send notifications to those users who have been tagged. Notifications can be customized if required and it’s worth noting that Twitter automatically opts you into the ‘Allow anyone to tag me in a photo’ option, which for those with a large following or those who are victims of frequent trolling may find this problematic. It’s simple to change this however under privacy setting and only allowing those who follow you to tag you or disabling tagging altogether.

Some people in the United Kingdom have reported that they have not got this update yet so it may be that Twitter is gradually rolling out these features as they often do. Whilst these new features are only available on the official Twitter for iOS app we will be getting an Android update soon.

Both the new photo-tagging and tweets with up to four photos will display in embedded tweets, according to a post from Twitter software engineer Cesar Puerta.

 

Wednesday
Mar262014

Facebook buys Oculus VR, Early Adopters Unhappy

Yesterday Facebook announced the latest in it’s acquisition spending spree with the purchase of Oculus VR the company behind Oculus Rift. Facebook announced that it bought the company for $2billion which compared to the amount they paid for SnapChat seems like small change. Oculus started out as a kickstarter project and was initially seeking $250,000 in funding but went on to rake in nearly $2.5 million in pledges.

Many of the early supporters have hit out at the acquisition with one former supporter, Michael Cooper taking to the Kickstarter page and writing:

"What in hell was the point of Kickstarter if you sell out to a giant company like Facebook, This is very disappointing. I will no longer be supporting the Oculus Rift in anyway."

This is just one of a wave of comments that flooded the Kickstarter page soon after the deal was announced yesterday and every comment at the time of writing this is negative. Oculus Rift was was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects to ever be funded but it seems Facebook and Oculus have a lot of work on their hands to convince people that this was a good move.

It will be hard for Oculus to convince people especially when big companies such as Mojang, the creators of Minecraft have severed all ties with Oculus VR over this deal citing that Facebook creeps them out, according to owner Markus Persson

Sadly for disgruntled Kickstarter backers there is no such thing as a refund or money back guarantee so I guess you’ll have to just deal with the fact that your hard earned dollars helped pave the way for multi billion dollar payday.

 

Tuesday
Mar252014

The New HTC One

HTC today officially unveiled the new HTC One originally codenamed M8 and it’s clear from the off that it’s very similar to the original HTC One. Many people have criticised HTC for not being innovative enough and sticking with such a similar design, much like Samsung did with the Galaxy S5. However you have to question, If something’s not broken why fix it? and that’s the approach that HTC have taken with the new HTC One. Before the release of the original One last year HTC were on a downward spiral and were really struggling against the likes of Samsung, Apple and LG. So it makes sense that they would not mess with a device that has been as successful as the HTC One.

That being said the HTC One has not been left short when it comes to updates and has received some significant upgrades with this new version such as a larger screen and an amazing camera. The phone comes with Android KitKat 4.4 as expected, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB RAM. Storage wise you can choose from a 16Gb or 32Gb model and like the HTC One Max it also now comes with a microSD card slot. The display is now 5” diagonal and the resolution remains the same at Full HD (1,920 x 1080).

In terms of design the new HTC One follows the design of the original very closely and keeps the curved metallic back which was a popular design feature for many people. Above and below the display you will notice the BoomSound speakers which are still classed as the best sounding speakers on any smartphone and with the larger form factor HTC has been able to get even more volume out of them. The phone is available in three colours; Gun Metal, Silver and because it’s the ‘in thing’ a gold version is available too.

I couldn’t end this article without talking about what is possibly the biggest feature of this new model and that’s the cameras, no I didn’t make a mistake there a ‘two’ cameras on this device which HTC have dubbed ‘Duo Camera’. Above the main camera is a smaller image sensor which measures depth information in your photos, which HTC says will let you do some nifty effects after the fact. One such feature is simulating the bokeh effect, which blurs your background very subtly and artistically. You can also get a slight 3D effect using the Duo Cameras although it’s not as good as a real 3D camera it does make for some interesting photos.

What do you think of the new HTC One? Are you considering getting one or are you holding out for one of the other devices launching later this year? As usual we would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

 

Monday
Mar242014

iTunes on Android?

We often say that certain things will never happen such as Apple releasing Android versions of it’s applications, but every now and then we are taken by surprise. One such surprise is the prospect of iTunes being released for Android. iTunes has long been an Apple only product with the exception of the iTunes version for Windows. However that could soon be about to change if recent reports are to be believed.

Currently Apple has iTunes radio which is a free ad-supported service that allows users to listen to music and create stations based on artists, song and genre. It doesn’t however have a streaming service. Apple is reportedly in talks regarding a streaming service like Spotify though it has been stated that talks are in very early stages.

If Apple were to release iTunes for Android it would certainly shake things up. Although Google does have a music service on Android it’s music collection is quite sparse when compared to iTunes due to licensing restrictions in certain countries. Extending the reach of iTunes would give other services such as spotify a run for their money.

Steve Jobs was dead against bringing iTunes to Windows originally and felt the same about Android. However with Tim Cook at the helm it seems anything is possible as he publicly revealed that he has "no religious issues" porting its software over.

I would personally just like to be able to get iTunes radio in the United Kingdom before worrying about on-demand streaming services. What do you think of the idea of iTunes being available on Android handsets? Is this a bold move by Apple or a terrible idea? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

Monday
Mar242014

How to Monetise Your Online Content

How to Monetise Your Online Content



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Friday
Mar212014

Google Drive Pricing Reduced

With more and more data moving into the cloud we are seeing a bigger demand for affordable cloud storage. Google launched Drive just over two years ago with a competitive pricing model and has been a popular choice for storage ever since. One aspect of Google Drive that appeals to many is the deep integration with Google docs allowing you to easily create a document, spreadsheet or presentation, store it in Google’s cloud and easily share it with others using Google Drive.

Recently Google announced that it was slashing the prices of Google Drive to make it more affordable to everyone. Now you can get 100GB of storage for just $1.99 a month instead of $4.99. For those with much bigger requirements such as myself you can get a whopping 1TB of storage for just $9.99 which is insanely good value at just 1 cent per GB. When compared to competitor Dropbox which gives you 2GB free and a maximum of 100GB for $9.99 this is an extremely generous offer.

It’s likely in the coming weeks that we will see a retaliation from some of the other cloud storage providers who will likely reduce pricing in order to compete with Google’s new pricing structure. Whilst we are unlikely to see anything like the pricing offered by Google we should expect to see some action from other providers such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon and Box.

You may be wondering what you would do with 1TB of storage from Google Drive? personally I use it as an extension of the memory on my iPhone. Sadly you can’t add any external storage on iPhone via SD card so I take advantage of Google’s generous 1TB offer and use it to expand the storage on my ageing 8GB iPhone 4 allowing me to store more photo’s, videos and documents than would normally be possible.

Have you taken advantage of the new pricing model for Google Drive? What do you primarily use cloud storage for? As usual we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Thursday
Mar202014

Google Voice Merging with Hangouts

Like it or not it seems Google+ is here to stay as Google moves to integrate yet another service into the social network. If you thought that the outrage over Google+ comments merging with YouTube was bad just wait until the company’s extremely popular Google Voice becomes integrated into Hangouts, part of the Google+ network.

Google Voice the free VOIP phone call, texting voicemail and voicemail-transcription service will soon merge with Hangouts both on iOS and Android and eliminating Google Voice as a separate product.

Fans of Google Voice have already taken to Twitter to protest their concerns over the merge and the impact it may have on the service. Others are just angry at being tied into Google+ as they don’t wish to use Google’s social network.

Google recently suffered embarrassment when it’s Hangout service suffered a prolonged outage on Monday which is unlikely to inspire any confidence in the merger between Google Voice and Hangouts.

The idea of Google Voice and Hangouts merging shouldn’t come as a surprise as Google did hint at this being a possibility way back in May last year when Google+ Product Manager Nikhyl Singhal said:

"Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly."

So far there is no word on when this merger will take place but with Google’s I/O conference coming up in a few months time we could expect to hear this announced during this time.

What do you think about the planned merger between these two Google services? Have you embraced Google+ or are you trying to avoid it like the plague? As usual we would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

Wednesday
Mar192014

Office for iPad to be announced next week

Microsoft has announced that office for iPad is coming soon and will officially unveil it next week during a press event. The event will be the first time we see new CEO Satya Nadella speak publicly to the press since replacing Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft.

Reports say that Microsoft is sending invitations to some members of the press regarding the press event in San Francisco taking place on March 27. It is thought Nadella will himself introduce Office for iPad which is rumoured to closely resemble Office for iPhone which launched last year.

Office 365 allows subscribers to install office on up to five devices excluding Windows Phone and Windows RT devices which get free access. As with the iPhone version users will be able to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the go.

Nadella recently spoke of his intentions to prioritise cloud services and in particular cloud services on mobile devices so this fits in with that vision. Microsoft also recently made OneNote available on Mac as part of this effort.

We are likely to hear lot more from Microsoft about it’s future plans at the Build Developer Conference which starts on April 1st. The biggest announcement will likely be the release of Windows 8.1 update 1 but it will be interesting to see what else they have up their sleeve under the reign of Satya Nadella.

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Android Wear: Google's wearables platform announced

Fitness trackers, Watches and glasses? You can't go far on the web without a tech news site talking about wearable tech. Samsung is on it's second version of it's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, Apple is rumoured to be making a smartwatch and that's just the heavyweights. Rumours started surfacing a while back about Google making a smartwatch of it’s own, and today we finally have some good information about what Google is working on.

Today Google announced that they are working on Android Wear a new version of Android designed specifically for wearable devices. Android Wear is designed to be used on a wide range of wearable technology devices however Google says it will start in the area that makes the most sense and that is the SmartWatch.

Android Wear has been designed to bring contextual information to a user when it's most needed. In theory this means getting the latest updates from social apps, instant messaging and photos along with showing you the best/fastest route to get to your next meeting or appointment.

Google released a concept video for Android Wear today which as you can see has much in common with Google Now and Google glass. As with other devices running Google Now, Android Wear is voice enabled following the "Okay Google" dictation scheme of gathering information. Along with providing useful information at glance on your wrist, Android Wear will also feature health monitoring abilities that allow for real time access to data for users and applications on your smartphone.

A key part of making a successful smartwatch includes applications, and this has been proven by the Pebble smartwatch. Google has already released a preview version of Android Wear to existing Android developers to start preparing their existing apps to take advantage of Android Wear. Google also say’s that it will be releasing further API's and resources to developers in the coming weeks.

We are likely to hear a lot more about Google's upcoming Android Wear at the Google I/O conference but so far it certainly seems like an interesting concept and I personally can't wait to see this develop further and become available for consumers. It was said that 2014 was going to be the year of wearable technology and that certainly seems true so far and we are only three months into the year.

What do you think about Google's smartwatch concept? Do you think Android Wear will be a good addition to the Google Android Platform? As usual we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.


 

Monday
Mar172014

Mozilla abandons Firefox Metro version

Windows 8’s controversial Metro interface has received another blow today as Mozilla has revealed that after 2 years worth of development and testing that it is shelving the Metro based version of Firefox. Microsoft launched Windows 8 with a new Metro start screen 2 years ago and developer interest in the platform has been slow. The latest snub from Mozilla is not likely to help matters either. Microsoft have been trying to entice developers to write touch friendly apps for it’s new touch interface but so far the interest has been minimal.

Recently Microsoft announced details for Windows 8.1 update 1 which gives users the ability to boot straight to the desktop and bypass the Metro interface all together. Along with this update there will be an option to run metro based applications on the desktop and use the taskbar to switch between them. It seems even Microsoft isn’t sure what it want’s in regards to Windows 8 either. So it comes as no surprise that Mozilla decided it just wasn’t worth their while working on a Metro version of their browser.

In a blog post the vice president of Firefox said, "On any given day, we have, for instance, millions of people testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we've never seen more than 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment." The blog post goes on to explain that with so few people interested in this version that bug testing would take far too long as there were not enough people actively using the software to properly test it and squash bugs.

With such a big software developer giving a ‘vote of no confidence’ on Microsoft’s new interface you have to wonder what the future holds for Windows and how Microsoft will move on from this. The idea behind Metro was supposed to be to carry the Windows PC power into the tablet market, a very different strategy from Google and Apple’s approach, which expanded their smaller screen smartphone OSes to tablets. If software developers don't adopt to Metro, though, and stick only with the older "desktop" interface, it undermines Microsoft's strategy.