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10
Feb

Samsung to begin producing and selling authentication chips for Samsung and third-party accessories


samsung_hq_picture1

The Korean blog, DDaily, is reporting that an insider has given them some information detailing Samsung’s attempt to create an accessory ecosystem not unlike what we see with Apple’s.

These NFC-equipped “authentication chips” will allow Samsung to give both its blessing to particular accessories, as well as allow itself and third-parties to design smarter accessories that exhibit a greater connection to Samsung’s devices. 

Samsung and other sources have indicated that, unlike in the past, these authentication chips will be manufactured and sold by Samsung directly. The hope is that these new lines of accessories will create an ecosystem that advances the appeal of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S6.

DDaily’s source said, “The decision to mount authentication chips to accessories aims to differentiate the functions of original products.” They go on to say that consumers will see the first round of authentication chips being used in accessories like flip covers.

Samsung notes that this does not, in any way, prohibit third-parties from manufacturing accessories without the authentication chips; rather, it is merely an additional design element that could be included in those products. Plus it will give consumers the peace of mind in knowing that they are purchasing an accessory that comes with Samsung’s approval.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of accessories debut with these new NFC-equipped authentication chips and what features they could bring to the table. Will Samsung be able to catch up to Apple’s established dominance in the accessory game or will it always be a step behind? Will third-parties look kindly to the authentication chips or will they see this as an additional financial burden before bringing products to the market? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

Source: DDaily

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10
Feb

Paramedics use Google Translate to communicate with Congolese woman while delivering baby


Paramedics_Use_Google_Translate_Deliver_Baby_01

When you think of Google Translate, you might thinking that it’s great for finding the nearest restroom or where you can grab a cup of coffee, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Paramedics Gerry McCann and Shane Mulcahy were on route with a Congolese woman to Cork University Maternity Hospital in Ireland when there was a sudden change in plans. The baby wasn’t waiting any longer, but she spoke Swahili, and very limited English.

Well quick thinking Gerry fired up Google Translate on his phone (hopefully an Android) and was able to communicate with her. The woman told him that she felt that she needed to push, and five minutes later she said she definitely needed to push. A few minutes later a very healthy baby girl was born in the back of the ambulance at 6:23 am on February 2nd.

Gerry asked the Mother if she had picked out a name for her new child, but she said she hadn’t. He told her that since it was St Brigid’s Day, she should name her Brigitte. She seemed keen on it, but we don’t know for sure. However, we do know that the Mom and her new baby girl are home and doing well.

sources: joe.ie / The Corkman

 

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10
Feb

Google is testing Hangouts-based customer service



Google plans to use the Hangouts infrastructure as a means of customer service.

Its purpose is to provide a live video chat service for potential buyers of Google products, including smartphones, tablets, and Chromebooks (but not Nest devices) who can talk to Google Device Experts before purchasing. This will be a free service unlike Helpouts.

OnBRM reported that TechCrunch got information from people working directly on the project. Google, meanwhile, has confirmed a few of those details.

The Hangouts service was started quietly in November and is still being run as a test through the Devices channel of Google Play. The company is thinking of using in other places, whether virtual or physical. A source told OnBRM that it’s like a virtual version of Apple’s Genius Bar.



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10
Feb

Yelp paves the way for simpler food ordering by snapping up Eat24


Yelp Inc. Illustrations Ahead of Earnings Figures

Yelp’s targeting the wallets of lazy diners everywhere (and coming at Seamless and GrubHub in a big way) by gobbling up the online food ordering platform Eat24. The company, which is currently used by around 20,000 restaurants around the country, has actually been a partner of Yelp’s since 2013 (at which point the online review giant was already eyeing it like a juicy slab of bacon). You can already place delivery and takeout orders from within Yelp’s apps and websites, but the acquisition should allow the online review company to more seamlessly integrate Eat24’s technology. It also makes Eat24 a much more desirable solution for restaurants. Right now GrubHub and Seamless cover around 32,000 restaurants around the U.S. and London, so Yelp’s new baby has a lot of catching up to do.

[Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Comments

Source: Yelp

10
Feb

Failure to launch: a few reasons why smartwatches haven’t caught on


LG G Watch Sony Smartwatch 3 Moto 360 LG G Watch R Android Wear-6

My first encounter with a smartwatch was about 25 years ago. It was 1990 and I was in a crowded movie theater watching the movie Dick Tracy with my family. Set in the 1930s, the film’s title character, portrayed by Warren Beatty, was a no-nonsense detective who fought crime while sporting a high-tech wristwatch equipped with a two-way radio. As an impressionable kid with a budding love for technology, it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.

Fast-forward to the present, where Hollywood’s movie magic is pretty much a reality. Smartwatches are now widely available to consumers, but despite my fascination with futuristic timepieces as a child, I’ve yet to purchase one. And I’m definitely not alone. Recently, smartwatch maker Pebble announced that it had sold over 1 million units, which is definitely an impressive feat, however this milestone is over the course of two years. When you compare this figure to the millions of smartphones sold each month, it’s almost laughable. 

My first encounter with a smartwatch was about 25 years ago. It was 1990 and I was in a crowded movie theater watching the movie Dick Tracy with my family.

Arguably the most recognizable smartwatch producer on the planet, Pebble’s lackluster start hasn’t stopped other companies from jumping on the wearable bandwagon. Tech superpowers like Samsung, LG, Sony and Motorola have been cranking out smartwatches faster than they can sell them. So why aren’t consumers biting? Here’s my take.

Smartwatches Aren’t Really a Standalone Product

samsung galaxy s5 aa gear fit neo smartwatches

Unlike Dick Tracy’s telephone-esque timepiece, the majority of smartwatches are not capable of placing voice calls on their own. In fact, most of them need to be tethered to an Internet-connected smartphone in order to operate at full capacity. This may not be a complete deal breaker for everyone, however some people aren’t too keen on this setup.

Add in the fact that most smartwatches are currently priced from $200 to $300, and this watered down extension of a smartphone experience really starts to become a tough sell.

I mean think about it. Have we as people really gotten so lazy that our smartphones need a butler? In a sense that’s what modern smartwatches are. Fans of these luxury items will argue otherwise and say they’re about convenience. “I get so many emails and text messages!” But is pulling your phone out of your pocket really that much of a chore?

Have we as people really gotten so lazy that our smartphones need a butler?

This is my biggest gripe about smartwatches as a whole. They don’t really bring much to the table. Yes, they’re cool in theory and maybe even in demonstration, but what can you really do with one that can’t be done better with a smartphone? People most likely recognize this and simply want more.

Not that fashionable

Sony Smartwatch 3-13

Another thing stifling the smartwatch’s growth is its appearance. If you’re looking for an attractive intelligent timepiece your choices are very limited. Most of these devices are very masculine in appearance, so if you’re a lady seeking something softer, things are even worse. Is it just me or do most smartwatches look like exercise gear? I’d say the Moto 360, LG G Watch R and Pebble Steel are the best looking hardware from the lot, but they still lack the crossover appeal that a traditional watch has to offer.

A Few Ideas That Might Help

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Smartwatches aren’t necessarily on the brink of extinction, but they’ll need to evolve in order to endure the years ahead. One of the changes I’d like to see going forward are more self-sufficient devices that don’t require a smartphone for complete use. Yes, there are already products on the market like the Samsung Gear S, but I’m talking about devices with advanced network capabilities (mainly LTE) and possibly even the ability to place voice calls via a Bluetooth headset. While this sounds a bit silly, it may be a viable option for people who like to travel light.

Additionally, the smartwatch market needs watches that look more like… watches. The LG G Watch R is my personal favorite design so far, but some people may prefer something with more of a sleek build.

Smartwatches aren’t necessarily on the brink of extinction, but they’ll need to evolve in order to endure the years ahead.

Another challenge holding smartwatches back is how much they cost. Most devices are priced on a par with high-end on-contract smartphones, but they only offer a fraction of the functionality. The majority of casual consumers are just starting to wrap their heads around the concept of paying a few hundred bucks for a powerful smartphone or tablet. If these wearables are to catch on with the masses, manufacturers will need to find a sweet spot. I’d say that $100 to $150 is a reasonable price range. Last year, Pebble announced permanent price cuts for its product line, making its entry-level watch only $100. Hopefully some of the Kickstarter-created company’s competitors will soon follow suit.

Another possible springboard for smartwaches would be a device made by Google. The company already has a history of producing its own flagship hardware, so a Nexus watch would be an ideal showpiece to market Android Wear’s capabilities. While some people are gearing up for Apple’s first foray into the world of smartwatches, a timepiece directly from Mountain View almost seems imminent.

Final Thoughts

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Modern smartwatches are still in their early days. Software platforms like Android Wear, Pebble OS and Tizen will only get better with time, but early adopters are going to encounter growing pains along the way. This may not discourage hardcore tech fans seeking the next big thing, however average consumers will definitely be a bit more hesitant to part with their hard-earned cash.

In their present form, smartwatches are still unpolished, unproven and ultimately unnecessary. Toss in the fact that most devices are poorly marketed and it becomes pretty clear why they’re not flying off the shelves. And until hardware smartwatch producers can come up with a clear-cut reason why these devices are actually needed, 1 million units sold every two years might be a slow death knell ringing loud and clearly.

What do you think, consider smartwatches a useful luxury at this point, or a niche item not worthy of your hard-earned dollars? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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10
Feb

Samsung claims that their SmartTVs do not monitor living room conversations


SamsungSmartTV GadgetReview

Several days ago, The Daily Beast reported that Samsung SmartTVs were pretty much spying on its customers thanks to language buried in the “privacy policy” that allowed for Samsung’s Internet-connected SmartTV to use its voice command feature to possibly capture words stated by people around it.

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” – Samsung Policy

To be fair, The Daily Beast did note that it looked as if Samsung was simply collecting voice commands to improve the TV’s performance. As the EFF stated, “that language could be interpreted pretty broadly.” Such as, who is this third party? Is the data encrypted?

Now, Samsung’s official blog has answered most of the questions asked and announced that they will be changing their privacy policy to correct the confusing language.

In the statement, Samsung claims that they do in fact encrypt data sent to 3rd parties and that the 3rd party in this case was Nuance Communications who converted the customers voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you.

Basically, Samsung is making it clear that the voice commands and associated texts will only be used to improve voice commands in the future.



10
Feb

Google’s MVNO with Sprint and T-Mobile: Project Nova may be tablet focused


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It’s rumored that Project Nova began in the fall of last year, but it was only last month that the public became aware of Google’s entry into the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) game.

We know Google is wanting to partner with T-Mobile and Sprint, but beyond that everything has been speculation.

Talk Android’s Robert Nazarian reported on the leak of Project Nova last month, which you can view here, but details at the time were scant. Unfortunately, they still are, but Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis has still decided to step up to the plate and give his thoughts on the project.

You can read his blog post in full by clicking the source link below, but to summarize, Bubley feels that Project Nova may be more tablet focused, bringing better data access to our large smart devices. Alternatively, or in conjunction with the aforementioned focus on tablets, the analyst ponders if Google might be wanting to try its hand at providing a freemium method to mobile service.

Overall, just as with Apple, I don’t think this is going to be a Big Bang by Google in mobile. It will likely have one or two tactical near-term wins, but will be part of a cautious, long-term experiment and fishing-trip. While Google might have a “big strategy” in mind, with an eventual vision towards 5G, WiFi / satellite / drone overlays and so on, it cannot be certain of any given scenario at the moment. It also seems highly unlikely that Google just wants to be “another carrier” – although it might try to exert some pricing leverage. I’d say there’s also a 70%+ chance that this will be mostly/totally aimed away from conventional smartphones and plans.

Source: Disruptive Analysis

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10
Feb

iMac Buyer’s Guide: Is the 5K iMac Right For You? [Mac Blog]


The new Retina iMac, also known as the iMac with 5K Retina display, came at a time when the iMac line needed an infusion of something new, something dramatic — after all, it’s difficult to get really excited about another speed bump. The last time Apple made a major change in the iMac was in late 2012, and that was when Apple shrank the iMac to 5mm at the edge, a change that was nice, but a thinner iMac wasn’t on most people’s wish list.

The Retina iMac is the change in the iMac lineup we’ve all been waiting for, but it’s not quite the computer for everyone — yet. This buyer’s guide, and the video below, take a look at what needs to be considered when deciding to buy the Retina iMac.

What is the iMac with 5K Retina display?

The Retina iMac looks like your typical iMac from the outside. The key difference is the screen; you’ll notice that it shows amazing detail, and images look crisper and cleaner on the Retina iMac than on a standard iMac.

Apple calls a display “Retina” when a user, at a typical usage distance, can’t discern the individual pixels on the screen. The Retina iMac achieves this with a 5120-by-2880 pixel resolution. A standard 27-inch iMac has a resolution of 2560-by-1440. That’s a lot more pixels (four times, to be exact) on the Retina iMac.

retina_imacScreen resolutions compared with the Retina iMac
If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the enormity of the Retina iMac’s resolution, Apple provides a sample 5K image that you can look at on your Mac. The Retina iMac can show this complete image on its display.

In order for the iMac to handle so many pixels, Apple had to create a new timing controller. It’s currently found only in the Retina iMac — the Mac Pro doesn’t even have the graphics capability to handle 5K resolution (yet).

Who is the 5K iMac for?

The Retina iMac is $2499, out of the price range for many consumers. For most users, a 5K display is a luxury, not a necessity to be productive.

Content producers will benefit the most from a 5K display. There’s enough screen resolution for video editors working with 4K content to show video at actual size and still have room for app menus in the editing app. Photographers who work with large files will also benefit from the display, and designers will have the space to create and modify projects.

That being said, if you have the money, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a Retina iMac. Who wouldn’t want a display capable of such gorgeous graphics? And with so many pixels, you can fit more windows on the screen, so you many not need a second display.

It’s undoubtedly only a matter of time before Apple outfits the whole iMac line with Retina displays. Apple will eventually figure out how to reduce the costs to make such machines. Waiting to see if a more affordable Retina iMac is released isn’t a bad idea, especially if your current machine still meets your performance needs.

Specifications

The Retina iMac is not just the high-end iMac with a better display. The specs between the standard configuration $1999 iMac and the $2499 5K iMac are different in three major areas (besides the display).

At the heart of the Retina iMac is a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. That’s slightly faster than the 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz found in the $1999 iMac. For $250, you can customize the Retina iMac with a faster, 4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

Another major difference is the graphics card. The standard $1999 iMac has a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M, while the Retina iMac has a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M290X (and don’t forget the special timing controller). You can upgrade the graphics card in the Retina iMac to a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M295X for $250.

The final major difference is the storage device. The older 27-inch $1999 iMac comes with 1TB hard drive standard, while the Retina iMac has a faster 1TB Fusion Drive. Apple offers Fusion Drive and flash storage upgrades for an additional fee.

All iMacs include 8GB of memory. The 27-inch iMacs, including the Retina model, allow the user to upgrade the memory. Apple supplies the 8GB as a pair of 4GB RAM modules, so you can add a couple of modules if you’d like later on after your purchase.

imac-2014-ports
All iMacs include the following:

  • Four USB 3 ports
  • Two Thunderbolt ports (not Thunderbolt 2)
  • Ethernet port
  • SDXC card slot
  • Headphone jack

Mac Pro vs. 5K iMac

Apple’s quad-core Mac Pro is $2,999 without a display. 5K displays aren’t in wide distribution yet; the only ones you’ll find are Apple’s iMac and Dell’s $2,500 UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor, which you can’t use with the current Mac Pro. More 5K displays are coming (and it’s possible Apple will update the Mac Pro so it can drive a 5K display), but you can consider a 4K display, which range in price from $700 to $3,000. The Retina iMac doesn’t support target display mode, so you can’t get one, connect it to your Mac Pro, and use it as an external display.

A 5K display or a quality 4K display can cost as much or more than a standard configuration $2,499 Retina iMac, so it’s tempting to get the Retina iMac instead of the low-end quad-core Mac Pro.

Outside of price, there are software instances where you’re better off with a Retina iMac. If your daily usage involves productivity apps, Internet access, and even iLife apps, the Retina iMac is a better choice. It outperforms the quad-core Mac Pro (and even the six- and eight-core models) in single-core performance, according to GeekBench 3 benchmark results.

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A Mac Pro is the better choice if you use pro apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Photoshop. These apps are designed to use multiple processing cores, and the Mac Pro excels in multi-core performance, according to GeekBench 3. The higher-end Retina iMac with a 4.0GHz processor does outperform the 4-core Mac Pro, however.

geekbench-retina-imac-multi
Many pro apps still need to be optimized for the Retina iMac, so keep that in mind. Retina iMac owners have found that UI elements may have some performance issues. For example, in his review of the Retina iMac, Jason Snell found that Logic Pro X had issues when scrolling through a timeline, but this has since been fixed in an update.

Should you buy a 5K iMac?

The Retina iMac offers top-notch performance with the best display Apple has ever made. If you own an iMac that’s more that four years old and you’ve been holding out for a game-changing upgrade, the Retina iMac fits the bill.

If you’ve bought an iMac within the past three years, you’re probably happy with the performance of your current machine. The Retina display is more of a luxury, unless you often use pro app — then you’ll be able to take advantage of the high resolution.

The Retina iMac is really targeted at pro users who are working in different forms of media and use apps that take advantage of multiple processing cores. Editors of high-resolution video will benefit from the Retina display, and even if you’re working in audio or lower-resolution video for the web, you may not need to rely on a second display as much as you do now — the Retina display gives you plenty of space to do your work.



10
Feb

5 of the best camera apps for the Nexus 6



Today, many people only own one camera and they always keep it in their pocket. It is their smartphone. This has caused phone manufacturers to constantly improve the cameras and camera software on their phones with each new generation, and developers focus on making camera apps that improve photo quality and add features to make smartphone cameras as useful as possible. Motorola put a great 13 megapixel camera in the Nexus 6, and today we are looking at the 5 best camera apps you can get on the Nexus 6.

A Better Camera

A Better Camera interface

A Better Camera brings several great features to the Nexus 6 that other apps do not. It also takes advantage of Lollipop’s Camera2 API, but you do not have to be running Lollipop to download this app. A Better Camera offers both HDR photos and HDR video; however, the latter is not working on the Nexus 6 but is coming with the next update. Multishot allows you to take a group picture and choose the best face for each person, take a sequence shot, and remove unwanted objects from a picture. Preshot takes pictures before you press the shutter button to ensure you will not miss the shot. Best shot takes several pictures and automatically chooses the best one and deletes the rest. A Better Camera also includes a Burst mode and Night mode plus many other modes and options to fine tune your photo. For more experienced photographers, it also includes exposure bracketing, a live histogram, and the option to shoot in RAW. Of course, A Better Camera is not without its flaws. You cannot shoot video in 4K resolution, the time-lapse feature is not available in the Nexus 6, and the interface is not as appealing as other apps on this list. A Better Camera is free in the Play Store, but there are in app purchases that unlock other feature that some might find useful which can be purchased these individually or buy them all for $7.99.

Camera FV-5

Camera FV-5 interface

Camera FV-5 is an app that gives you almost full manual control over your phone’s camera, but it also has some other goodies baked in. You have the option to adjust shutter speed, ISO, focus distace, and white balance. For those looking for a more professional experience will be glad to see the inclusion of light metering, exposure bracketing, and a live RGB histogram. One of the coolest features in Camera FV-5 is the ability to assign a camera function to the volume keys. In other apps, you can use the volume keys to take a picture, but in this app you can use them to control different setting in the camera. You can assign you most used setting, such as shutter speed, to the volume keys to that you can raise or lower it by simply pressing the buttons. Another feature that some will find appealing is the option to do a time-lapse. While Camera FV-5 has some great features, it also has its downsides. While there is a video camera icon in the app, video recording is not available. Touching the icon will simlpy give you the option to install a separate video app. Also, the Lite version will only take pictures up to 640×480 resolution. To unlock higher resolutions, you have to buy the Pro version. Camera FV-5 has the ability to shoot in RAW, but the Pro version is also required for that. It is also not the most visually appealing camera app out there. However, if you want a plethora of options and are up for shelling out a few bucks, you can pick up Camera FV-5 Lite free and Camera FV-5 Pro for $3.95 in the Play Store.

Google Camera

Screenshot_2015-02-04-18-40-03

Google Camera is the stock camera app that comes preloaded on the Nexus 6, but that does not mean that it is bad. Google Camera has several cool features that you simply will not find on the other apps in our list. One is Lens Blur which allows you to blur the background around an object in the center of the photo. Photo Sphere is another feature that allows you to take a full 360-degree photo in the shape of a sphere. Google Camera also has one of the best panorama modes out there. It gives you the option to shoot video in 4K resolution and take HDR pictures. The shutter is extremely fast with almost no time between touching the shutter button and taking a picture. While Google Camera has several great features, it is also missing many features that other camera apps include such as control over white balance, shutter speed, ISO, burst mode, scene modes, and full camera control. If you are looking for an easy to use, beautiful camera app that just works, you do not need to look further than Google Camera which you can get free in the Play Store.

L Camera

L Camera interface

L Camera is different from the other camera apps on this list because it is not available on the Play Store. You have to download the APK from their website and install it from there. Also, L Camera is an experimental app that demonstrates and tests the new features in Lollipop’s Camera 2 API which means you have to be running Lollipop to use it. With L Camera, you are given the option for manual control over focus distance, shutter speed, and ISO. You can take pictures in RAW format and record in 4K which are both useful options. You also have the option to record video at 60fps in 1080p. One of the most appealing features of L Camera is its use of Material Design. The app looks amazing and takes Google’s new design language into account with every detail. Since this app is experimental, there are several functions that are simply not there. You do not have the option to control white balance, there is no photo review, there is no flash control, and no portrait orientation. Since the developers are constantly working to sort out every bug and bring new features to the app, it will definitely be updated to include more options. Unfortunately since it is not on the Play Store, you will have to go check their website periodically to check for new updates. All that being said, L Camera is still a fantastic looking and operating camera app that takes full advantage of the Camera2 API even though it may be lacking some features. You can get L Camera free from their website.

Manual Camera

Manual Camera interface

Manual Camera is currently my favorite camera app out there. This app takes advantage of Android Lollipop’s new Camera2 API which causes photos to look even better. The best part about Manual Camera is that it give you full manual control over your camera’s settings. You can control exposure, shutter speed, ISO, focus distance, and white balance. White balance is not working on the Nexus 6, but that should be fixed in a later update. You are also given the ability to capture pictures in RAW format which many will find extremely useful. On of the best features of this application is the selection wheel. When you choose a setting you want to change such as shutter speed or focus distance, you can change them by rotating a wheel in the bottom right. This is extremely well implemented and makes the app fun and easy to use. Overall, the app looks and functions very well, but there are some downfalls. As I mentioned, white balance is not working yet on the Nexus 6. Also, there is no video mode so you will need a separate video app if you want to record any. The app also requires Lollipop and, according to the description, only the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 work well with this app. That being said, if you are using the Nexus 6 and want full control over your camera and a great looking camera app, you should pick up Manual Camera for $2.99 in the Play Store.

These 5 camera apps give you the best control of your new Nexus 6’s camera and several take advantage of the new Camera2 API that was introduced with Lollipop. Give one or all of them a try and leave a comment telling us your favorite one. If we missed your favorite camera app, tell us down below in the comments, too!



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10
Feb

Flipboard finally brings its social news reader to the web


Flipboard Web

When Flipboard launched in 2010, news aggregation was still in its infancy. Google Reader was still the go-to RSS client for millions around the world and Twitter was only beginning to assume its role as a primary source of news. With its iPad app, Flipboard introduced a new way to digest content, with its slick magazine-style layouts and gestures that helped present articles and media in a more manageable way.

Fast forward to today; Flipboard finds itself trailing social networks like Facebook, which now play a pivotal role in what hundreds of millions of people read every day. Startups like Circa and Summly (before it was acquired by Yahoo) have also made a name for themselves by breaking down news into digestible snippets of information. It’s probably time Flipboard did something about the rise of its competitors, which is why it’s finally expanding beyond mobile and launching fully on the web today.

Flipboard coming to the desktop isn’t a new idea. When former TellMe CEO Mike McCue and Evan Doll, a former Senior iPhone Engineer at Apple, incorporated Flipboard in 2010, the iPad wasn’t even around. “It was never supposed to be an iPad app,” says Flipboard’s design lead Didier Hilhorst, “but web technologies weren’t as advanced back then as they are today.”

Back in July 2013, Flipboard showed us where it was ultimately headed with the launch of Magazines on the web. This allows Flipboard users to subscribe to magazines and “flip” stories from right within the browser, but because the content is manually curated by prominent members of the community, it’s limited to specific topics of interest.

Flipboard Web Topic

So what does today’s launch bring? Well, if you’re an existing Flipboard user, the experience is mostly the same, albeit larger. Bigger screens inevitably offer more space, so Flipboard is utilizing endless scrolling to deliver more of what you want to see but also help you personalize your feed. “We wanted to keep things natural on the web and not force things,” says Hilhorst. “We think we’ve found the right balance between a beautiful layout and keeping a detailed feed.”

It’s taken roughly a year and a half for Flipboard to get its web version just right. The company originally attempted to include the familiar swiping mechanic found in its mobile apps, but it didn’t translate well when used to navigate large collections of content, so it was scrapped. You still get the same news hits, summaries, inline video, social updates and recommendations that are close to your interests, though, but they’ll now be intelligently arranged depending on the topics you’ve subscribed to.

That includes fullbleed layouts that place striking images in your feed. Flipboard employs a clever algorithm that determines the size of the original source image and works out whether it can be displayed in its own full-width panel. It also checks where best to place headlines, works out the dominant hues inside an image and color-codes sections to match. The company’s been careful not to maintain a completely monotone layout, breaking up content to let you know where you are and what topic you are focused on.

Flipboard Web Cover Stories

For Flipboard, a complete move to the web is about “closing a lot of loops.” Before, if a user sent stories they’d found through the app to a friend who doesn’t use the service, they’d be sent directly to the source article and the company is no longer part of that relationship. No longer reliant on specific platforms, Flipboard can now keep users inside its property, building influence while it gets to know their individual habits.

Hilhorst notes that teachers all over the world are now using Flipboard to curate content and share recommended reading lists with their students. Because the web is ubiquitous, Flipboard hopes that the barrier to entry is now much lower, giving users more incentives to curate and combine all of their interests into one cohesive platform.

Filed under: Internet

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Source: Flipboard

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