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26
Mar
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Macworld 2014 First Look: Petcube, Motion Control Ring, Lumo Lift, and More


The annual Macworld conference, which will see hundreds of companies showing off Apple-related apps and products, officially kicked off today with the innovation showcase for media and workshop attendees.

While Apple stopped attending Macworld in 2009, causing the conference to shrink considerably, there are still a number of innovative products being demoed at the show, including the Petcube, the motion-controlled Ring, unique wearables from Lumo, and more.

Many of the products at Macworld originated on crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter, including the Petcube, which reached full funding back in November of 2013. The Petcube is a small iPhone-connected cube equipped with a camera, motion detection, and a laser toy, allowing users to keep an eye on and play with their pets while they’re away from home.


The first Petcube devices will launch in May of 2014, but the company is debuting its Petcube app [Direct Link] at Macworld, which is a sort of social network for pets at the current time. App functionality will be expanded in the future, first allowing users to interact with Petcubes placed in shelters and then letting them interface with their own cubes after the product ships. Petcubes can be preordered for $199.

The Ring, another product being demoed at Macworld, also made its debut on Kickstarter. While wearing the somewhat bulky Ring on an index finger, users can make small gestures to interface via Bluetooth with an iPhone or iPad app, completing tasks like spelling out letters, opening apps like the camera, or making mobile payments.


In a demonstration, the Ring’s creators used it to write letters that were then transmitted to an iPad app and also demonstrated it opening the camera app. The current functionality of the Ring seems to be a bit limited, but the creators are planning to release an SDK for developers to incorporate its technology into their own apps. The Ring is expected to ship in July of 2014 and can still be preordered via Kickstarter for $185.

ring
Lumo is showing off its new Lumo Lift product, which is a small wearable device that is designed to track daily activity and improve posture as well. It comes in an array of colors and designs and can measure steps and calories burned like many other fitness devices.

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Lumo Lift is unique in its ability to keep an eye on posture, letting users know with a slight vibration when they slouch too often. The Lumo Lift can be preordered for $79 and will ship in the Summer of 2014.

There are also several other products available that have been demoed at conferences like CES, including the Flir One thermal camera and the Livescribe 3 Smartpen that transfers traditional writing to iOS devices. A slew of up and coming apps are also available today, including video/photo hybrid Flashback and MotionPortrait, an app that takes photos and transforms them into 3D avatars.

Macworld will continue through March 29, with the Expo Hall opening tomorrow morning.

    



26
Mar

HTC One 2013 Google Play Edition Discounted by $100



Following the launch of the new HTC One M8 Google Play Edition, Google have decided to discount the 2013 HTC One Google Play Edition device by $100, bringing the price down to $499.

The 2013 HTC One has a 4.7-inch display, 1080p display, a Quad-Core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 chipset, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of Internal Storage.

Google is showing a shipping time for the original HTC One Google Play Edition device as 1-2 days, so if you have your heart set on the earlier generation device then head on over to the Google Play Store now to make it yours.

 

The post HTC One 2013 Google Play Edition Discounted by $100 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

26
Mar

Samsung Galaxy Gear available for $99 with Best Buy’s Deal of the Day



Best Buy has the first generation of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch available in all colours for just $99 through their Deal of the Day.

The Samsung Galaxy Gears on offer are refurbished units, but with a $200 saving and free shipping do you really care?

Browse the full selection from Best Buy and grab your bargain of the day here.

The post Samsung Galaxy Gear available for $99 with Best Buy’s Deal of the Day appeared first on AndroidGuys.

26
Mar
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Can Oculus survive the Facebook effect?


The response was swift, and almost universally negative. Within minutes of Facebook’s announcement that it was acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion, the internet had begun to mobilize against the deal. From Twitter to Reddit to our own forums, the message from early commenters was clear: This was bad for Oculus, bad for virtual reality, bad for gaming — just bad.

Part of this was the normal reaction to any popular, independent startup being bought out by a big company. There’s a natural — sometimes justified — suspicion that the acquirer will ruin everything that made the small company successful, and the onus is on the newly merged business to prove otherwise.

In Oculus’ case, however, there was more than the typical anti-acquisition backlash. Facebook has become known as a company that is built around one thing: monetizing your social interactions. On Facebook, you’re the product, with everything you do sold to advertisers, and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. As Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson said in a tweet announcing that he had scrapped plans for a version of the hugely popular game optimized for Oculus’ head-mounted display, “Facebook creeps me out.”

Facebook knows this is the company’s reputation, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to assuage concerns that his company would change Oculus in any way. Zuckerberg gushed about how Oculus’ VR technology “opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences,” and talked about how it would expand beyond gaming to educational and medical applications. Zuckerberg cited Instagram’s success — the service now has 200 million users — as an example of how an acquired company can function independently and successfully within Facebook.

When it came to Oculus’ business model, he said Facebook wasn’t interested in making money on the Oculus Rift hardware; the revenue, he said, would come from other places. “We view this as a software and services thing,” he said. “If this becomes a network where people can be communicating and buying things and virtual goods, and there might be advertising in the world, but we need to figure that out down the line.” Zuckerberg didn’t go into specifics, but it’s easy to imagine shopping malls popping up in the virtual landscape.

Advertising, along with the targeting and tracking of personal data that goes with it, may be what Oculus supporters fear most. Virtual reality, according to Zuckerberg, may be the next major computing platform, after mobile. But it’s a platform that, by its very nature, is designed to be highly immersive and personal. Do you want Facebook, or its advertising partners, to know how you’ve interacted with your doctor? What you’ve been discussing in a virtual classroom? What kind of VR porn you like? While similar privacy concerns have dogged ad-supported services from Facebook to Twitter to Google, the extension of this to virtual reality has, for some people, crossed a line between the personal and public that just shouldn’t be breached.

In a blog post last night, Minecraft’s Notch emphasized that his main concern about Facebook is that the company is focused on social applications, rather than gaming. But he didn’t shy away from raising concerns about the company’s business model. “Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers,” he wrote.

The Instagram deal mentioned by Zuckerberg is a good example of the challenges the company faces. In the almost two years since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, it’s stayed largely independent. You don’t need a Facebook login to access the service; ads are a rarity; and only recently did Facebook even broach the idea of swapping out location data from rival Foursquare with its own content. But not long after Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, the service quietly changed its Terms of Service to give itself the right to sell users’ photos to advertisers without notification or compensation. After the resulting backlash, the service was forced to backpedal and undo the changes. Around the same time, Instagram updated its Privacy Policy so that it could share user data with its parent company. That change remains in effect.

Nov. 13, 2012 - Irvine, California, U.S. - Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe, left, and founder and inventor  Palmer Luckey work at th

Oculus’ founders cited Zuckerberg’s willingness to keep hardware margins down as a key factor influencing their decision to go ahead with the deal. CEO Brendan Iribe told me that Zuckerberg said he wanted to “deliver this platform and product at the lowest cost to the widest audience possible.” The goal, said Iribe, was to “connect a billion people with VR at the best possible price” and “not worry about a profit at the beginning.” Oculus Investor Antonio Rodriguez of Matrix Partners called Facebook a “money machine,” and cited its deep bench of engineering talent as an opportunity for Oculus to reach its goals sooner. “We could have gotten there” as an independent company, he told me. But Facebook will let Oculus build out “scalable infrastructure” for VR more quickly. “I don’t have to worry about Oculus anymore,” the outgoing board member said somewhat wistfully. “I’ll get the VR experience I want faster.”

Engadget chose the Crystal Cove Oculus Rift prototype as Best of CES this past January. That decision was based on the product’s cutting-edge technology, and the potential it offered to finally deliver on the promise of VR, something that’s seemed tantalizingly close for decades, only to forever fall short. That potential is at the crux of both Oculus’ decision to go with Facebook, and the suspicion of many formerly loyal supporters. Oculus mastermind Palmer Luckey is one of the smartest, most focused people I’ve ever had the fortune to meet, and I believe him when he says his main reason for partnering with Facebook was to get the “best experience to as many people as possible” as quickly and affordably as possible. Luckey believes in the potential of Oculus’ work with every fiber of his being, and Facebook, as he sees it, will get that work into the hands of millions of consumers in a way that never could have happened if Oculus had stayed independent.

SONY DSC

But I also understand the wariness of people like Notch, who was one of the earliest and most devoted supporters of Oculus. A little over two weeks ago, he flew from Sweden to Oculus HQ in southern California to meet with the team and learn more about their development roadmap. “What I saw was every bit as impressive as you could imagine. They had fixed all the major issues, and all that remained was huge design and software implementation challenges,” he wrote of the experience. “As someone who always felt like they were born five or 10 years too late, I felt like we were on the cusp of a new paradigm that I might be able to play around with.” The Facebook deal, however, has ended that. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.”

Luckey told me that he has “zero interest in doing what someone else thinks is the right thing.”

Ultimately, Oculus can still succeed in the marketplace without Minecraft, and while serving Facebook’s business goals. The Oculus deal doesn’t change the fact that the Rift is an exciting, technically advanced platform that can deliver a unique gaming experience, and has potential for a huge number of non-gaming applications. Of course, if the Rift ends up being just a way for Facebook to serve immersive ads to its users, it will be a disappointment, no matter how groundbreaking it is. But there’s no guarantee that will happen. Luckey told me that he has “zero interest in doing what someone else thinks is the right thing.”

Don’t count the Oculus team out just yet.

(Iribe/Luckey Photo:Photo (C) Ana Venegas/The Orange County Register/ZUMAPRESS.com

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26
Mar
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Google Play Music for Chrome delivers browser uploads, finally


Google has finally enabled uploading tracks to its Play Music service through a browser, but for now, you’ll need to flip the switch yourself. In the Labs section of the menu, there’s an option for Google Play Music for Chrome. Ticking the appropriate box will allow for both drag-and-drop and manual song additions without the need to use that less than stellar Music Manger. Clicking the “Add Music” button at the top of the UI will also give you the option to choose folders that you’d like synced automatically. There’s also a mini player that can be accessed by clicking the arrow at the bottom right of the web app and the ability to download songs, albums and playlists directly from the web has been tacked on, too. All of the new features are powered by Google’s Chrome Apps and Native Client tech. What’s more, the folks in Mountain View have also added Info Cards to Movies and TV shows for added details on the actors in a particular scene. Of course, the selection you’re watching has to enable the feature for it to be available when you press pause on a mobile device. We’ve included a handy GIF after the break for a quick look at how it works.

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Source: Google Play (Google+) (1), (2)

26
Mar
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HTC One Mini to get Android 4.4 KitKat update starting today


Now that the brand new HTC One is out, it’s high time the rest of HTC’s siblings get updated to Android’s latest, especially if they want to remain relevant. The previous HTC One got the KitKat bump back in February, so now it’s the little brother’s turn at the firmware upgrade. Yep, if you have a HTC One Mini, you’ll likely get your Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC Senses 5.5 update starting today if this post by carrier AT&T is to be believed. The update will bring a number of improvements, like an enhanced dialer app, new navigation bars, a full-screen immersive mode, a new BlinkFeed app and more. So go on, head into Settings and download the latest System Update to get with the times. That is, if you’re not tempted to get a whole new phone altogether.

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Source: AT&T

26
Mar
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JLab Audio $5 Grab Bag’s Return! Take a Chance, Get Great Gear


JLab Audio Grab Bags $5JLab Audio is a company that has a lot of fun doing what they do. They create great products at prices that you can afford. They offer portable speakers, ear buds, headphones and a few other odds and ends. Regardless of your needs in audio, they probably have something you will love.

JLab is running a fun little grab bag offer on their site that we thought you all might be interested in checking out. For $5 per bag, no more than 3 per-person, you can order a grab bag for your self. The concept is simple, they grab something off their shelf, pack it up and ship it over. You have no idea what might be coming. However, you do know that that value of the item will be more than the $5 price tag. It could be a NEW set of JLab ear buds (retail range 19.95 to $50), The Crasher Bluetooth Speaker (retail $79.99), The Bouncer Bluetooth Speaker (retail $129.95), The Bombora Headphones (retail $69.99) or a number of other items.

Each grab bag purchased will have one item inside and once your order has been placed, you can’t cancel it. Shipping is a flat $2.50 per bag order. So for $7.50, you could come out with some pretty great gear.

Head on over to the labgrabbag.com order page and take a chance. I might just have to go grab my 3 bag limit and hope for another Bouncer in the mix.

 

 

 

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26
Mar
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Google Brings Web Music Uploading and More to New Play Music for Chrome Lab


Google Play Music is a great service that many take advantage, as long as their country has support. Every track or album you buy through the Play Store is instant;y available on all your devices and online. You can listen to them right then and their, or even download them. The buck didn’t stop there though, you can also add up to 20,000 of your own songs to your account and Google would pull the information needed, sort them out for you and swap them for higher bit rate versions.

The more annoying part of the upload process was that you had to install the app to your PC and direct it to a folder on your hard drive to upload form. A necessary component, but a rather irritating one for many. Today Google Play’s G+ page let loose an announcement of a new feature in the Labs section for Google Chrome users. The new Lab option lets you simply drag and drop tunes from any PC directly to your Google Music account.

The Google Play Music for Chrome also has a handy little mini player that can be moved around your screen at will. It has all the controls to pause, change tracks, thumbs up or down , shuffle or repeat. Not to mention the cover art too.

Google Play Music mini Player RunningTo get started you will want to head over to your Google Music account on the web. Check the box to enable the Google Play Music for Chrome lab and then save the changes.

Google Play Music LabsIt might take a few minutes to process through and give you the access. It took about 5 minutes for me. Once it is available, you will have a small arrow in the bottom right corner.

Mini Player Google musicClick on it and then you can install the mini player.

Google Play Music mini Player RunningKind of loving it right now. It is certainly evolving finally. Nice work Google. Now, if the mini player would just minimize and be be resizable. Hey, that is why this is a lab feature though. Give it a whirl and let Google know what they need to change before it makes it main stream.

Via Google Play G+ 

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26
Mar
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BlinkFeed coming to non-HTC Android devices ‘soon’


It was easy to miss in the fine print of yesterday’s HTC One press release, but it appears that BlinkFeed will be coming to the Play Store for non-HTC devices. We knew that a number of Sense apps were being broken free of their firmware chains, in particular Zoe, but it wasn’t clear just how fare the company was going to take that initiative. Now we know that the company plans to offer its own branded experience to any Android user. And it’s even putting BlinkFeed, which is arguably the centerpiece of Sense, up in the app store for use on devices running TouchWiz or even vanilla Android. For now it’s only listed as being compatible with the M8, but press materials state that:

Following its popularity with HTC users, HTC will now make HTC BlinkFeed available to other Android devices, launching on the Google Play store soon.

While we’ve never been huge fans of companies messing with the pure Android experience around here, we’re certainly in favor of more consumer options. With the Google Now Launcher in the app store and BlinkFeed coming soon it might not be long before you can buy whatever high-end handset your little heart desires then slap the launcher of your choice on top of it — be it HTC, Google, Samsung or Sony.

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Via: Android Central

26
Mar
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Last.fm is killing off subscription radio, will focus on music-discovery app Scrobbler


Today, music-streaming service Last.fm announced plans to end its subscription service across all platforms. In place of its curated, ad-free radio for $3 a month, the company will focus on its Scrobbler app, which logs every song you listen to on your Last.fm profile and helps with music discovery. You’ll still be able to listen to your personal stations and library via the Youtube-powered Last.fm player on the desktop (currently in beta), and users can still play their Last.fm tracks on Spotify. In other words, Last.fm will now rely on third-party providers rather than streaming from its own servers.

Users have a few reasons to be disappointed: for one, the Scrobbler app is only available for iOS, and streaming on the Android app will end along with the subscription service on April 28th. And for our friends in Canada, this means Last.fm will join Spotify, Pandora and other biggies in not supporting streaming in the Great White North. We’ve reached out to Last.fm for some clarification on what this means for users on all platforms — we’ll have an update once we hear back.

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Source: Last.fm

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