Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Sony Updates Lens-Style Camera to Include Photo Gallery, Better Connectivity

December 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Sony’s better-in-concept-than-in-execution camera is getting a much needed update. The mobile photo app for the Sony QX10 and QX100 lens-style cameras, which I reviewed in full a few months ago , will now have a built-in photo browser. The previous version of the app, called PlayMemories mobile, didn’t have a photo gallery, which meant users had to leave the Sony camera app and navigate to the smartphone’s native camera roll to see the photos they just snapped. And Sony is promising that the updated app, which for now only applies to iOS, will result in a twice-as-fast connection speed when it comes to wirelessly linking the Sony cameras with the smartphone app. An Android app update is in the works, Sony said in a press release. Finally, a firmware update next month will allow for HD video recording and higher ISO settings with the cameras. The Sony lens-style camera hit the market this past fall, costing $250 for the 18.2-megapixel QX10 lens and $500 for its higher-end sibling, and offered a unique way to take pro-level photos with your smartphone. The lenses are technically digital cameras, as I wrote then, packed with image sensors and a shutter button, but they look like cylindrical lenses, without a viewfinder. You smack them onto the back of your smartphone to transform that five-megapixel pocket computer into what’s supposed to be a cool camera. But as I experienced, having to frequently reconnect the lens-camera with the smartphone felt like a hassle when trying to capture a series of photos throughout an event or outing, and the lack of photo gallery in the app just seemed silly. Sony promised updates were on the way, and here they are, at least the first batch of them.

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Big Money for Mobile Crowdsourced Transit App Moovit, With Sequoia Leading $28M Round

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The notion that public transportation is a large and growing global opportunity for a tech company might seem a bit of a strange one. But, as Moovit co-founder and CEO Nir Erez sees it, “The world is bending towards public transportation because there’s no choice, cities are too crowded.” More than six billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations. Moovit has just raised $28 million led by Sequoia Capital. The round massively ups the stakes for a company that has 30 employees and had previously raised a total of $3.5 million from BRM Group and Gemini Israel Ventures (who also contributed to the new funding). How it works: a Moovit user opens the free iPhone or Android app to check what’s the best means of transportation to a destination and when it’s arriving at his or her current location. When the user hops on the bus and starts moving, Moovit makes a note of the actual arrival time, and updates its estimates in real-time for users looking up later stops. Erez said Moovit now has hundreds of thousands of daily users who generate 10 to 12 million active reports per day. They have made 40 million trip requests in the past year. The app only became available outside of Israel about a year ago, and it is now especially popular in Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia; and Rio Sao Paulo, Brazil. Most Moovit reports are passively contributed, the company also seems to have hit on the crowdsourcing jackpot of voluntary contributions

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Centerbridge Won’t Proceed With Deal to Buy LightSquared

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

LightSquared Inc. said Tuesday that Centerbridge Partners LP has backed out of a tentative deal to buy the company out of bankruptcy, although the wireless venture is pursuing a transaction under similar “architecture” with existing stakeholders. Centerbridge left the deal “for economic and noneconomic reasons,” a LightSquared lawyer said at a hearing Tuesday in Manhattan bankruptcy court. Centerbridge didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Pact Raises $1.5M to Help People Hit Health Goals by Putting Money on the Line

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A motivational startup called Pact has raised $1.55 million, led by Khosla Ventures and Max Levchin, for its mobile apps, which help people set monetary stakes for meeting their goals. Pact, currently known as GymPact , had initially focused on workouts . Its 500,000 members (about 100,000 of them are active per month) have completed five million workouts over two years. Pact CEO Yifan Zhang Users pledge via iOS or Android app to pay at least $5 if they fail to complete one of their committed workouts. And all those who do complete their goals gets cash rewards split out from the flakers — generally 30 cents to 50 cents per workout. Now Pact wants to apply the same ideas to eating, so it is broadening both its name and focus. New versions of the app under the new brand are set to launch January 1. Unlike some other goal-setting apps , which often subsist on button clicking and social pressure, Pact tries to hold users to their word. It validates workouts using phone accelerometers that track a minimum of 30 minutes of activity, or by connecting to FitBit and RunKeeper. For food challenges, Pact will connect to MyFitnessPal for meal logging — and a day only counts for credit if users track at least 1,200 calories eaten across three meals. It will also offer an option for daily fruit- and vegetable-eating commitments, where users submit mobile photos. “The very special thing about Pact is that our financial incentives are very motivating,” said Pact co-founder Yifan Zhang in an interview today. ”We are 92 percent effective at getting people to hit their commitment. The average user stays with a pact for six months.” Okay, but what about the kind of sadistic twist that Pact is fostering urges for users to punish themselves for bad behavior? “I think the strongest incentive is the negative incentive,” Zhang said. “It doesn’t mean the motivation comes from you paying money; it comes from you having money on the line.” Zhang said she has faith that Pact has broad appeal, given that only 20 percent of its current users live in major cities. “There are lots of people in suburbia — regular people — trying to get healthy,” she said. Future versions of the app may include new pacts for categories like sleep and weight loss

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Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky on App Discovery, Distribution, and the Power of Chat Networks

December 16, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Benchmark Capital partner Mitch Lasky is a games guy. He’s been in the business for decades — long before he went into venture capital — and when it comes to selling games, he has seen what works and what doesn’t. So it seems strange that Lasky is so knowledgeable on apps like Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk — some of the biggest messaging applications in countries outside the U.S. But it’s not so odd, considering that mobile games companies are increasingly moving toward these chat apps to help people find and download their games. I sat down with Lasky last week to chat about the gaming industry, and social games in particular, and what he had to say about chat networks is something every gaming company should take note of. Oh, and while he wouldn’t speak much about it, pay attention to the part in here about Snapchat, the buzzy messaging app he happens to advise and sit on the board of. AllThingsD: So talk to me about something I know a little bit about, but I hear is going to be big: Games distribution through chat apps. WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are all offering mobile games for sale or download inside their main chatting apps. Why is this a big thing, and why are American companies interested in it? Mitch Lasky : It’s amazing –if you look at the Korean mobile app stores, 10 out of their Top 10 mobile games are being distributed through KakaoTalk. It’s totally working. It’s an unbelievably great distribution channel. So, why is that better than, say, Apple’s App Store? I want to know how it works so well. Well, if I told you, then I’d have to kill you. No, seriously though. I think you need to decouple the concept of distribution and discovery. Distribution has become completely commoditized.

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Microsoft to Hold Its Build Developer Conference April 2-4 in San Francisco

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Microsoft confirmed that it plans to hold its next major Build developer conference April 2-4 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, the same spot that it held the event last year . “As always, Build is a time to bring developers together to talk about our latest products, platform advances, tools and offerings, all of which come together to create unmatched apps and scenarios,” VP Steve Guggenheimer said in a blog post .

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QuickPay Takes $5.5M More to Help People Find and Pay for Parking

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

QuickPay , which works with parking operators to make their lots and spots mobile-enabled so drivers can find and pay for parking, has raised $5.5 million from backers including Fontinalis Partners, Ecomobilite Ventures and IncWell. Smart parking is a surprisingly vibrant space, considering the subject matter. QuickPay competes with Streetline, which has some $40 million in total funding , and the BMW-backed venture ParkNow.

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iPhones Dominate Sales at All Four Major U.S. Carriers

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Apple’s latest iPhones are topping the charts at U.S. carriers. That’s the latest from Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, who says that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c have been among the top three sellers at all four major U.S. carriers during the past three months.

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With Private Messaging, Instagram and Twitter Continue Their Arms Race

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

So Instagram introduced a version of private messaging on Thursday morning, allowing users to send photos to only one or a few of their followers at a time. And it’s a fine decision. Communication between Instagram users has been limited mainly to proxy networks to date. This knits the service together more cohesively. But more than that, it heightens the continuing battle with another popular social network: Twitter. And Twitter should be worried. Consider the similarities: Both Twitter and Instagram are based on blasting out wide distribution of content to a public follower network. Both now allow users to send media privately on a one-to-one basis. And Twitter is looking much more like Instagram lately, shifting toward full in-line photos inside users’ Twitter streams (though users can still choose solely to communicate via text). Both are trying to be, in a nutshell, the premier public media-sharing service on the Internet. “Instagram is here today because we were public from the start,” Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said in an interview. “And I think if we were a private network or if we had a symmetrical following model, we wouldn’t nearly be as big as we are today.” And make no mistake: Twitter may have 232 million monthly active users, but Instagram is big . The photo-sharing service has garnered more than 150 million monthly active users in half the time Twitter has existed. And more than 50 percent of Instagram’s users return to the service on a daily basis . That’s got to be unsettling for Twitter. The curveball in all of this, however, has been the rise of private messaging over the past few years. While Twitter and Instagram rose to prominence based on the premise of being public, both companies realize that the general public has room for forms of both public and private online expression, rather than one over another. And if not given the choice to share and communicate privately within a network, users will go elsewhere to find it

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MindMeld Assistant App Listens Along to Conversations to Help in Real Time

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

MindMeld , which is one of the more ambitious application ideas out there and has been promised for more than a year , launches to the public tonight. Well, the U.S. English-speaking public with second-generation and older iPads, that is. The app is a personal assistant that actively listens to voice calls and tries to provide useful relevant information — for instance Web sites and pictures — in real time. Afterwards, it summarizes key concepts. Up to eight people can participate in a call at a time. In a post-Snowden era, live conversation analysis is the kind of stuff that larger, scarier companies like Google might have a lot of trouble doing without causing mass hysteria, but perhaps a startup will be able to give it a good shot. San Francisco-based MindMeld maker Expect Labs has funding from Liberty Global, IDG Ventures, Google Ventures, Intel Capital, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, Telefonica Digital and others.

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