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Apple Acquires Social Recommendation Service Spotsetter

Apple has acquired Spotsetter, a social search engine designed to offer personalized recommendations on places to visit, reports TechCrunch. The Spotsetter app, which has now been removed from the App Store, offered personal recommendations for “great venues to eat, play, drink, and shop” via existing social networks.

The app integrated with social networks like Facebook to aggregate data on locations recommended by friends, and it included results personalized for an individual’s “taste and trust.”

Using the app, you could look up any place, category or keyword, then be presented with personalized results, as well as see what your friends had said about the places around you. The app would also highlight which of your friends were experts in a given area, like coffee or shopping or sushi, for example — and you could tag your friends as experts in order to influence the recommendations. In addition, you could use Spotsetter to discover new places, by browsing the map to see where your friends have been and what they’ve shared.

The end result was a social search engine built on top of a mapping interface.

Spotsetter announced plans to shut down its app six days ago, but did not give a reason for the removal. Its co-founders, Stephen Tse and Johnny Lee are now listed as Apple employees on LinkedIn, however.

With fondest emotions, I’m announcing that we are closing down Spotsetter app. We still have big dreams for personalized search for places and look forward to seeing great progress in this area. Thank you everyone for your support over the past years!

According to TechCrunch, Apple may be planning to use Spotsetter’s technology, which layered social data on a maps interface, to bolster its Maps app with location recommendations. The deal, for an unspecified amount, was said to focus mainly on the technology and the talent of Spotsetter’s founders.


Apple to Offer New Contract-Free Plan Options for iPhones in U.S. Retail Stores [iOS Blog]

Apple is planning to bolster its in-store iPhone sales in the United States by allowing customers to add pre-paid or month-to-month plans when purchasing full-priced, unlocked iPhones, according to a source that spoke to 9to5Mac.

Currently, iPhone customers who pay the full price to purchase unlocked iPhones from Apple retail locations must visit a carrier store or use a pre-activated SIM card to get service on their phones, but following the policy change, those plans will be available directly through the Apple Store.

Apple Stores will stock AT&T GoPhone pre-paid activation kits and T-Mobile SIM cards for both T-Mobile and AT&T pre-paid plans, with employee training taking place over the next few weeks.

Sales staff will promote ATT’s $60 per month pre-paid plan (with 2.5GB of internet data and unlimited talk and text) to those seeking AT&T plans, while the stores will offer $50/month (1GB LTE data) and $70/month (5GB LTE data) unlimited data plans to customers seeking T-Mobile devices. The activations must be done at the time of purchase in Apple Stores and those devices will be unable to be returned to Apple for a refund.

The new pre-paid and month-to-month plans may be available at Apple Stores during the last week of June and are likely part of a push to move more device sales in store. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that 80 percent of iPhones are sold at third-party locations while 20 percent are sold in by Apple, a figure he would like to improve.

Apple has launched several other programs to improve in-store sales, including a recent iPhone upgrade event encouraging iPhone 4 and 4s owners to update to a newer device.


Dr. Dre’s Perfectionist Tendencies Spark Comparisons to Steve Jobs

Dr. Dre, aka Andre Young, who will join Apple following the finalization of its acquisition of Beats Electronics, has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal in a piece that gives a look at his work philosophy, his character, and the role he will play at Apple.

An accomplished rapper, the co-founder of Death Row Records, and co-founder of Beats Electronics, Dre is expected to bring not only his music expertise to Apple, but also the “cool” factor that’s made Beats hardware so popular with the younger generation.

The music mogul is said to have a “perfectionist impulse,” a penchant for being short with words, and a disregard for artificial deadlines, which could cause friction at Apple. “I’m not feeling that,” he’ll say when he doesn’t like an idea presented to him. The Wall Street Journal compares his attitude to that of Steve Jobs.

Dr. Dre’s perfectionist impulse, coupled with his disregard for artificial deadlines, have meant that “he doesn’t put out a lot of material,” despite being a workaholic, said Paul Rosenberg, a lawyer and manager of one of Dr. Dre’s protégés, rapper Eminem.

That could portend friction at his new employer, Apple, which agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion last month. But like Dr. Dre, Apple has also boasted about not doing market research. The company’s late founder, Steve Jobs, made no secret of his belief that consumers don’t really know what they want until someone else shows it to them. Colleagues predict that at Apple Dr. Dre could also cede some decision-making power and become more accommodating.

Dre, who is joining the company along with Jimmy Iovine, will not have a specific title at Apple. As noted by Iovine, the duo will be known as just “Jimmy and Dre” on campus, but according to Tim Cook, Dre will work with both the hardware and music divisions, being supervised by Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue.


Computex 2014 wrap-up: Intel and co. usher in the future of computing

For the last few years, we’ve travelled to Computex in Taiwan to see the latest flock of Ultrabooks, with the latest and greatest models providing the biggest news of the show. This year, though, the highlight of the show wasn’t one particularly great notebook or even one company — though ASUS did steal the show with its mile-long list of new products. Rather, it was a prototype from Intel that teased the next generation of ridiculously thin and light PCs.

You think your Ultrabook or iPad Air is thin, but you have to see Intel’s reference design to grasp the skinniness of 2-in-1 devices powered by the Core M-series of processors. We’ll start to see products integrating Intel’s new line of chips later this year, but just imagine how much slimmer high-powered laptops will be a few Computexes down the line. At a certain point, devices will reach peak thinness, and then the focus will shift to improving battery life and performance in such a compact package — and that’s when everybody wins.

Intel’s look at the future of mobile computing is probably the most significant announcement at a show that’s traditionally all about PCs, but this year’s Computex also shined the light on wearables. True, we didn’t see any hardware that rivals Google Glass or Pebble in features or sophistication, but several prototypes from smaller companies boast clever designs for gadgets that live on your head or wrist. A flexible-battery manufacturer demonstrated a strap design that doubles the life of your smartwatch, offering a solution to one of the biggest complaints about the most popular models. E Ink’s wraparoud-display prototype is also an interesting approach to the next generation of wearables, giving you a ton of space to display info on your wrist.

Computex may not be the “CES of Asia” in terms of high-profile product announcements, and much of the new tech we saw here in Taipei was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of cool stuff to see. We’ve made it easy for you by breaking down our coverage just below — enjoy!








Filed under: Laptops, Tablets, ASUS, AMD, Intel, HP, Dell, Acer



Latest rumors have Apple’s wearable launching in October

iPod nano used as a pseudo-smartwatch

If you’ve been waiting for Apple’s long-fabled wearable to make an appearance, you now have a time frame to (tentatively) mark on your calendar. Both Nikkei and Recode hear that the device is currently slated to arrive in October. Technical details are still unclear, but both sites expect a strong health focus; that’s not surprising given both iOS 8′s new HealthKit platform and longstanding 9to5 Mac rumors of fitness-oriented wristwear. Nikkei also understands that Apple and Nike hope to integrate each other’s services in the future, although it’s not certain that this will apply to the wearable.

Recode is quick to caution that the scheduling could change, so don’t be surprised if October comes and goes without a shiny new gadget. However, a launch that month makes sense. In recent years, Apple has reserved many of its bigger non-iPhone unveilings for October — think iPads and higher-profile Macs. That’s a long time to wait, if true, but what’s another few months for hardware that has achieved an almost mythological status?

[Image credit: Ruben Schade, Flickr]

Filed under: Wearables, Apple


Source: Recode, Nikkei


HP’s Leap Motion keyboard to be sold separately for $99

The Leap Motion controller is currently present in three forms: a $74.99 standalone dongle, inside the special edition HP Envy 17 laptop and inside an HP keyboard. The dongle — with almost half a million units sold since launch — and the keyboard are obviously the only ways to add this hand motion sensor externally, but the latter option was limited to select HP computers to begin with. Well, not any more. At Computex, Leap Motion told Engadget that as of this month, you’ll be able to purchase said keyboard for about $99, and it’ll work on any Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC as long as you have the software installed — be it the current version or the free V2 update with skeletal tracking coming this summer.

Filed under: Peripherals, HP



Do You Want to go to Lookouts Annual Google I/O Kickoff Party? We Have 10 Tickets to Giveaway!

Last year we worked with Lookout, the anti-virus software company, to hand out 10 tickets to their annual Google I/O “Hangout with Lookout” kickoff party in San Francisco. Luckily for our readers, this year will be no different. Again, we have the opportunity to hand out 10 free tickets to ten luck readers.

googleioinvite Lookout PartyThere are some stipulations we must iterate to you ahead of your entry though. You absolutely have to be 21 or older. There will be plenty of FREE alcohol to imbibe upon. You will be solely responsible for your travels to and from the party as well as any accommodations you might need. You DO NOT have be attending Google I/O to party with Lookout either. So, if you happen to like food, drinks and door prizes and live in, or will be travelling through, San Fransisco June 24th, you should definitely enter for a chance to win a ticket.

Wait, did I just say prizes? Yup. Lookout and T-Mobile will be on hand at the door handing out prizes to the first 200 people through the door. The party is a pretty big deal actually. They have a line around block to get in every year.

How long will the contest run?

The entry time frame is from today, June 6th, through Friday, June 13th. Once we close the entry period we will randomly select 10 winners and email them the link to register for the party. Yes, if you win you will be able to bring a guest with you as well, just be ready to register them with you at the same time.

How to enter?

The most important part, right? Entering is super simple. Down in the magical comment section of this post let us, and Lookout, know a thing or two. Here are the questions we would like an anser for:

  • What  are you expecting to see at Google I/O?
  • What Google I/O rumors do you think are true?
  • What do you think Google will handout this year?
  • What do you love about Lookout?
  • Has Lookout helped you save or find your device? (recent update gave some new features)

Pick one, pick them all, doesn’t matter. Leave your comment below and keep your fingers crossed. Oh, and don’t be stingy, share the opportunity with with everyone you know! Maybe they will get picked and take you along for the party. hey, it could happen.

Additional details: 

When: Tuesday, June 24 at 7:30 pm

Where: Novela, 662 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

What: Lookout’s annual Google I/O kickoff party, “Hangout with Lookout.” Drinks will start flowing at 7:30 pm at Novela in San Francisco and we’ll have tasty food and awesome entertainment. Free giveaways for the first 200 who show up at the door (arrive early: we had a line around the block last year!). *Please note that this event is 21 and over.

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An In-Depth Look at App Extensions in iOS 8 and Yosemite

Extensibility, one of the iOS 8/Yosemite features for developers announced by Apple during the Worldwide Developers Conference, promises to bring a range of new functionality to the app ecosystem.

The feature is designed to allow third-party apps to share services with other apps, create widgets for the Notification Center, and develop custom system-wide keyboards, letting apps and services work together and interface with iOS and OS X as they never have before.

Federico Viticci of MacStories has taken an in-depth look at Apple’s Extensibility initiative, explaining the various types of app extensions available to developers and how those extensions will work on both iOS and OS X. There are seven general ways that extensions can be used, as detailed by Viticci:

Today (iOS and OS X): widgets for the Today view of Notification Center
Share (iOS and OS X): post content to web services or share content with others
Actions (iOS and OS X): app extensions to view or manipulate inside another app
Photo Editing (iOS): edit a photo or video in Apple’s Photos app with extensions from a third-party apps
Finder Sync (OS X): remote file storage in the Finder with support for Finder content annotation
Storage Provider (iOS): an interface between files inside an app and other apps on a user’s device
Custom Keyboard (iOS): system-wide alternative keyboards

One of the most intriguing aspects of Extensibility, app widgets in the Today view of the Notification Center, was demoed on stage during the keynote. A SportsCenter widget displayed sports scores and an eBay widget offered a way to keep an eye on auctions. Philips later demoed how a Hue widget might allow users to control lights directly from the Notification Center. Apple is said to be encouraging developers to keep widgets simple, with iOS 8 preventing system-intensive widgets with complex features.

Action-based app extensions will also bring major changes to iOS, allowing apps to extend their functionality to other apps. On stage, this was shown off in Safari on Yosemite, using the Bing app to translate Japanese text, and through a Pinterest tool that allowed it to capture an image from Safari to save to the Pinterest app.

Custom keyboards, one of the major surprises at WWDC, also fall under the extensions category. Apple has, in the past, been reluctant to allow third-party keyboards due to security concerns but there are a number of precautions in place. Custom keyboards are unable to type in secure text input fields, like those used for passwords, and by default, the keyboards will not have access to keystrokes.

According to Viticci, the developers he’s spoken have reacted with excitement about all of the possibilities offered by Extensibility, and believe that “a new class of apps will be possible thanks to extensions.”

Today, it’s difficult to quantify the impact that extensions will have on the iOS app ecosystem, but I think it’s safe to say that, considering developers’ reactions to Apple’s announcement, we’re going to see plenty of cool new stuff this Fall.

iOS users interested in more information on Apple’s Extensibility initiative, how app extensions work, and how they might be used by developers should check out Viticci’s full extensions piece on MacStories.


Here’s the world’s ‘most powerful and lightest’ 13-inch gaming laptop

Following the impressive Razer Blade we reviewed last month, Gigabyte also wants a piece of the portable gaming laptop action with its new Aorus X3 line, a sub-14-inch Windows 8.1 device that claims to be the world’s “most powerful and lightest” in its class. In terms of weight, it starts from 4.12 pounds (1.87kg) which is more attractive than the new Blade’s 4.47 pounds (2.03kg). The smaller X3 has an impressive 13.3-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440) LCD, whereas the larger 13.9-inch X3 Plus lets you choose between a QHD panel and a sweeter QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) version.

Both variants of the gaming beast come with Intel’s Core i7-4710HQ (2.5-3.5GHz), 8GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM (with a spare slot for another 8GB) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M with 6GB of GDDR5 memory. You can have a pair of 256GB or 512GB SSDs configured in RAID 0, meaning you get super fast access to a maximum of 1TB space. Together with the macro keys plus Gigabit LAN connection or 802.11ac WiFi, online gamers should have no problem entertaining themselves with these machines — at least until the 74Wh battery has been drained while gaming on the go.

As you can imagine, these gaming laptops don’t come cheap: Both the X3 and the X3 Plus will go from $2,099 when they launch in Q3 this year, with one-year global warranty plus one-year local warranty included.

Filed under: Gaming, Laptops



Did the moon spin off from another planet? German scientists say ‘yes’

Moon view.

There are many wacky theories about how the moon was formed, including one that suggests it’s actually a huge, dormant spacecraft. Of the several, slightly more scientific hypotheses, the leading one argues the moon was spun from the debris a collision between ancient Earth and a protoplanet scientists have named Theia. The “giant impact” theory, as it’s known, has suffered from a lack of direct evidence, but now a group from a German university claim to have found some. Previous analyses of moon rock found it to be identical to rock on Earth, which disagrees with the theory as we should see chemical traces of the alien planet Theia. Armed with a more sophisticated mass spectrometer, a German team have re-examined moon rock and discovered a measurable difference in the ratio of Oxygen isotopes. In simpler terms, the samples have a slightly higher concentration of Oxygen 17 than Earth rock does, which the researchers claim is evidence that Theia played a part in the formation of the moon.

As the BBC reports, some scientists are a little more skeptical, arguing you’d expect a more radical difference in chemical compositions between Earth and the theoretical Theia. The German team also had only a small sample set to work with, but the lead researcher is pretty convinced: “This confirms the giant impact hypothesis.” You can’t really prove it either way, seeming as we’re thought to be about 4.5 billion years too late to know for sure, but we’ve shot a query off to our man on the moon base in the hope he might have something to add.

Filed under: Science, Alt


Via: National Geographic

Source: Science

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