Tag Archives: android

Turn the flash on your Android, iPhone camera into a flashlight

My mom shared this app with me, and it’s so obvious – turning the camera’s flash into a light – I’m amazed I didn’t think of it before. It also looks funny because it’s so incredibly bright, almost blinding in the dark. But the best phrase is that it gives new meaning to the word – flashlight.

Or, if that annoys you we can go with torch as it is called on the Android app – and in Britain. No such international wordsmithing for the iPhone version. Either way it is incredibly useful to have a light with you at all times.

Enjoy and if you know of better apps – please share.

 

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Google Maps vs. Apple Maps

In one corner you have the heavyweight, Google Maps, with a seven-year head start and a vast amount of data. In the other corner you have the underdog with a very big bank account, Apple Maps.

Round one begins with the iPhone 5 – loaded with iOS 6 – removing all traces of Google Maps and replacing it with Apple Maps. So how do they compare?

From Mel Martin of TUAW:

Make no mistake. Maps for iOS 6 is a great achievement for Apple. Starting from basically a blank slate and making some strategic acquisitions and partnerships (TomTom, Placebase, C3, Poly9, Waze) in map data, POI information and 3D fly-over images, Maps is amazing for what it does. On the other hand, comparing it to Google Maps, which has been around since 2004 and leverages the company’s experience and expertise in mapping, is going to leave Apple coming up short.

Another reviewer, Brian Proffitt of ReadWriteWeb:

There are many new features getting introduced in the iOS 6 version of the Maps app, such as turn-by-turn navigation and a new “flyover” mode. But already many reviewers are missing the one thing that the new Maps doesn’t have: Google Maps data.

Instead, Apple’s mapping data is coming from vendors TomTom and Waze, with search data tied in to the Yelp location-based review service. And the new dataset may not just be lacking a little - there could be big gaps.

Which makes this a feature and data war. Who will have the best turn-by-turn navigation and the most useful innovation. And how will Apple complete their data set without using Google’s, which they have sworn to never use.

Of course, Google is firing back with their own update, on the same day Apple Maps is released. From the N.Y. Times Bits Blog:

The Google Maps for Android app (update) will make it easier to search for places on Android phones and personalize searches on maps. (It will also) sync across devices. Say you are making lunch plans and you search for a restaurant on your computer. Later, you pull out your phone to look up its location on Google Maps. If you were logged in to Google on your desktop computer earlier it will suggest the restaurant.

The battle begins with Google far ahead in terms of features and data, but Apple always has a strategy for winning and it usually involves a liberal arts twist. We can expect Google to continue its rapid improvement of Google Maps, like a car accelerating downhill. While Apple goes slowly uphill, working out the bugs in release one, then updating twice a year at their hardware and software Keynotes in September and January.

 

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Google Plus releases more user stats – is it now valued at $10 billion?

Google Plus is quietly creeping into the mainstream. While many disparaged it as a flash and burn site, the social network is continuing to grow. It now has 400 million users and, according to Casey Newton of c|net, 100 million of those are active users. Compare that to Facebook’s latest numbers, 955 million users with 552 million active users.

If you take that Google Plus has half the users of Facebook or 20% of their active users, and you take the current valuation of Facebook at $46 billion, does that mean Google Plus is worth $10-20 billion?

Did Google just pull $10 billion out of hat?

Certainly something to consider, especially as the site becomes more important to the company. It has been integrated across all of their products, including YouTube and Gmail, adding a layer of social to every Google site. Something that can bring about unexpected innovations, for example, users can +1 apps for Android phones. A great way to siphon off the best Android apps and something I expect Apple craves.

In terms of numbers, Google said this social layer adds 50 million active users, bringing their total number to 150 million. And that makes Google Plus more important than most think. Indeed, Twitter only recently passed the 500 million user mark, with 170 million active users.

 

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Space in your hand – 10 amazing iPhone, Android apps from NASA, JPL

Get your space on with these 10 amazing apps from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They will amaze you with their material from visiting a comet, to being on the surface of Mars, or joining an astronomy society.

 

**All content from NASA/JPL

 

Space Images V2! - Discover, share and explore stunning images and videos of space from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

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Facebook goes native! Releases new apps that are twice as fast

Facebook has finally answered the question that’s been bugging Wall Street and the rest of us, “when are you going to get mobile?”

Yesterday, the answer came as Facebook launched major upgrades to their iPhone and iPad apps. From the N.Y. Times Bits blog:

Those who have suffered from the sluggishness of the current apps can breathe a collective sigh of relief: these new versions are much faster.

The apps look nearly identical to their predecessors. The main difference is that most of their old Web-based code has been replaced with the native programming code used for iOS

Even more, Facebook has gone all Google Plus on the issue (you know Google making social everyone’s responsibility):

In recent interviews, Facebook executives said they have retooled the organization so that every product team is working on mobile, and the company holds weekly training courses on programming for Apple and Android devices.

 

The Verge is reporting that these updates make the apps twice as fast:

In building a native Facebook app for iOS, the company looked at improving three key places, “the app’s largest pain points” all relating to speed: launching the app, scrolling through the News Feed, and tapping photos inside the News Feed. “We’re twice as fast in all these areas,” Mick Johnson says.

 

I’ve been playing with the app and the claims appear to be true. This is good news for Facebook fans (and stock holders) because slow apps can be killer for growth.

 

**Sorry for the “native” joke, but I couldn’t resist :)

 

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GameStop makes a huge pivot to Apple retailer – as retail video game industry dies

One of the last holdouts retail, video games, looks like it too will disappear. The biggest player, GameStop, who controls nearly two-thirds of the market, has been able to stay alive by pushing used games and devices. Last year the company earned $9.55 billion, 46% of which came from used items.

Unfortunately, that cannot sustain the company as more games go online, available for download. Which makes paying $60 for a cartridge much less appetizing for gamers, and takes away the bulk of GameStop’s earnings. This presents the company with a challenge…what to do next?

Believe it or not, become an Apple retailer. The company has opened an expansive new refurbishment factory for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches. They hope to apply all that used experience to the booming world of the touchscreen.

Two articles cover this, the first is a summary and the second is a full behind-the-scenes feature:

In an effort to avoid the fate of Blockbuster, Circuit City and others in the remainder bin of failed retailers, GameStop has embarked on a daring, if inglorious, strategy: refashioning itself from a console-game purveyor into a repairer and reseller of Apple gadgets, betting that its retail visibility will prove an advantage. - Summary – SF Gate

 

“If you want to understand GameStop, you must understand refurbishment,” says GameStop CEO Paul Raines. Behind the tall executive lies a 182,000-square-foot facility filled with workers who are polishing discs, piecing together video game consoles, and rigorously testing pre-owned iPads, iPhones, iPods and Android tablets. It’s called the Refurbishment Operations Center, or ROC for short, and GameStop is giving us a first-hand tour of the $7 million facility. - Behind-the-scenes – The Verge

 

 

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The growing popularity of summer camps for building iPhone, Android apps

Here is an excerpt from a Marketplace interview on computer-focused summer camps, they’re surging in popularity:

 

Queena Kim: Aw…the  sounds of summer. Families getting together for barbeques. The sound of BBQ sizzling. Dogs running around.

And 9-year-old Alex  is plopped down on a lounge chair totally engrossed in his favorite iPad game, which prompts this from his dad:

 

Gary: Alex, lose the iPad!

 

Chances are, these words are being heard across the country. But a growing number of parents are taking the opposite tack.

 

Instructor: And this is the course that uses x-code so…

 

Welcome to ID Tech Camps.  It started 13 years ago with 200 hundred campers in Silicon Valley. Today, ID Tech says it has about 23,000 campers in 25 states. One week at the camp can cost up to $1,400 — and that comes with the usual camp activities like swimming, games and nighttime pranks.

 

Read the full story: Marketplace - Summer camp for young techies

 

 

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Fantasy Football gets Google Hangouts – live draft parties, meetups, trades

Google announced today a pretty major deal with the NFL which will help it to grow adoption of Google+ Hangouts. With a full rollout coming later this month, NFL.com will soon be offering one-click access to Google+ Hangouts, allowing fantasy football players to video chat with their league in real-time. This is big news not just for  Google+ itself, but also for the NFL.com website, since it means that players from  all over get to have the same experience of hosting live draft parties and meetups, even when they’re too far to travel back and forth between people’s houses.

Hangout members can also chat, perform trades, or host other meetings via the feature, which later this month will include a live indicator on NFL.com/fantasy that indicates whether or not anyone in your league is online and hanging out. And the feature will work from the Google+ Android and iOS apps, too, says Google.

 

Source: TechCrunch - Take That, Yahoo Fantasy Football: NFL Adds Google+ Hangouts To Its Fantasy Football Site

 

 

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Romney campaign release ‘Mitt’s VP’ smartphone app – instantaneous alerts for VP choice

Mitt Romney’s campaign announced Tuesday that supporters can sign up to be the first to learn of the presumptive Republican nominee’s vice presidential choice by downloading a new smartphone app.

“The first official way to learn the name of the Republican vice presidential candidate is by using our new ‘Mitt’s VP’ app,” said Romney digital director Zac Moffatt in a statement. “Users of the app will be the first to get the news on the biggest political decision of the year through an instantaneous alert on the one device most people carry around the clock — their phone.”

The app will push a notification to supporters’ phones instantly after the name is released from Romney headquarters, and allow users to share and comment on it across a variety of social networks. The application will be free on both the iPhone and Android operating systems.

The approach is the evolution of a 2008 move by the Obama campaign that sent a text message to supporters announcing the selection of now-Vice President Joe Biden.

 

Source: The Hill - Romney campaign to announce VP selection via smartphone app

 

 

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Ikea adds smartphone apps and augmented reality to its newest catalog

Ikea prints 211 million copies of its product catalog every year. That’s more than 20 times the population of Sweden, the home of the build-it-yourself furniture empire. These are impressive numbers for a print catalog in a digital world, but Ikea is now changing with the times with a head-first dive into augmented reality.

“A lot digital stuff becomes very interesting when you mash it up with the tangible items of the real world,” said Andreas Dahlqvist, Global Deputy Chief Creative Officer of McCann, the creative agency behind the catalog.

Augmented reality features will roll out in the 2013 edition of the print catalog, which will arrive in customers’ mailboxes later this month. Amid pictures of Expedit bookshelves and Boksel tables, Ikea fans will see special printed symbols, each an invite to launch new iPhone and Android smartphone apps for an augmented reality experience.

When you wave your smartphone over pages with digital content, a variety of features appear.

 

Source: Wired Gadget Lab - Ikea’s Augmented Reality Catalog Will Let You Peek Inside Furniture

 

 

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