Posts Tagged ‘phone’

"Just a Reflektor" Brings You and a Smartphone Into Arcade Fire’s Latest Video

September 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The band Arcade Fire has come out with another interactive music video designed to inspire and provoke, push the limits of Web technology, and make your laptop fan work in overdrive. “ Just a Reflektor ” combines a Web browser, webcam and smartphone to include the viewer’s point of view in the video, with the phone (or mouse) used to control what’s illuminated. It’s a neat way to make the experience of the video more visceral. Like the band’s “The Wilderness Downtown” before it, “Reflektor” was made using Google technology, specifically the Chrome browser, which it requires. The short film was written, directed and produced by frequent Arcade Fire collaborator Vincent Morisset, and filmed in Haiti. Credits include the Google Creative Lab, the company’s internal imaginative product marketing agency. On a tech explainer page that breaks down the various effects used in the video, the band highlights technology including the JavaScript Library three.js, WebSockets, and the open-source TailBone project. “Just a Reflektor” is also open source.

Read More

Nokia Taps Option for Nearly $2 Billion in Bond Financing From Microsoft

September 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

One of the many terms of the Microsoft-Nokia megadeal is an option for Nokia to get 1.5 billion euros ($1.975 billion) from Microsoft ahead of the transaction’s closing. Nokia said on Friday that it indeed wants the full amount, which it will pay for by issuing a series of bonds to Microsoft. If Microsoft’s deal to acquire Nokia’s device unit is completed, the bonds will be redeemed from the purchase price. Otherwise, they have different maturity dates, and are also convertible into Nokia shares. In a statement , Nokia said it will use the money to pay down debt from its buyout of Siemens in their network equipment joint venture, as well as for the catch-all “general corporate purposes.” RELATED POSTS: Microsoft CEO Promises to Limit Nokia Phone Names to 10 Syllables or Less Samsung, HTC Mum on Any Interest in Windows Phone Post-Nokia Elop in July: It’s “Hard to Understand the Rationale” for Selling Nokia’s Devices Business Microsoft Is Getting Nokia’s Phone Business for a Song Nokia Shares Rise, Microsoft Falls in Reaction to Deal So Much for BlackBerry’s “Clear Shot” at Being No. 3 in the Smartphone Market Selling Nokia Was Hard Emotionally, But Right Thing to Do, Says Interim CEO Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia’s Top Designer, To Leave Company in November Steve Ballmer on Why Buying Microsoft’s Biggest Phone Partner Makes Sense Nokia Interim CEO: We Have Three Strong Businesses Remaining Barcelona Rendezvous, 50 Nokia Board Meetings Led to Microsoft Deal Microsoft’s Nokia Deal By The Numbers Microsoft Confirms It Gets Less Than $10 Per Nokia Windows Phone Sold Stephen Elop Is Now Microsoft CEO Candidate to Beat Microsoft Wants to Keep Licensing Windows Phone to Others, Post-Nokia Deal Microsoft Explains the Rationale Behind the Nokia Deal Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Device Business in Deal Worth $7.17 Billion

Read More

Why Should You Care About Whisper, the Secret-Sharing App That VCs Are Pouring Money Into?

September 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Whisper makes a mobile app where people anonymously post their secrets in the form of text overlaying a picture. Users can then privately or publicly respond to a post. It’s not really a social network, because there’s no such thing as a Whisper user profile. Sounds like your basic flimsy mobile startup, right? Moderately interesting premise — but who has time for that when there are oh-so-many others? Yet Whisper has seen rapid growth, intense daily usage, and just raised $21 million in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures and Trinity Ventures with a valuation of $76 million

Read More

Imagine if Microsoft had Made a SkypePhone

September 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Today when Marc Andreessen talks about how software is eating the world, the companies he evokes are merely parroting the playbook of Skype, which did eat the phone companies and thus set the template for the notion that software is eating the world. – Om Malik , writing on Skype’s tenth birthday

Read More

Steve Ballmer on Why Buying Microsoft’s Biggest Phone Partner Makes Sense

September 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Given that Nokia was already putting all its smartphone eggs in the Windows basket, it’s a logical question to ask how Microsoft believes it will gain an advantage by purchasing Nokia’s phone business . Naturally, CEO Steve Ballmer thinks the business will be stronger. In an interview with AllThingsD , Ballmer laid out three reasons why things will be different once Microsoft owns Nokia’s phone business. First, Ballmer said, that as close as the two companies were, there were legal and logistical barriers to total cooperation. Each company had to temper its investment based on separate business needs. “As long as we were on a model with two different companies… there was always some kind of a boundary along which it was hard to innovate from a hardware/software perspective,” Ballmer said. “It doesn’t mean we didn’t do it but we know we can improve our agility.” Second, Ballmer noted that each company was separately trying to build its own brand–a duplicative effort that diffused impact and wasted money. “Just think about the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 1020 and you will that know we can make simpler clearer messages to the market.” Ballmer said, noting that Nokia accounts for 80 percent of all Windows Phones (though Microsoft still hopes others will continue to make it even after Microsoft takes over from Nokia.) Finally, Ballmer said that as two companies, Nokia and Microsoft had to make different choices about where and how much to invest. “We know, as we scale, we need to invest behind this business,” Ballmer said. “It simplifies the business decision making and thinking having the economics be more unified.” Translating from business speak, buying Nokia’s phone business gives Microsoft a greater business opportunity if it can succeed. Microsoft notes in its case for why the deal makes sense that it currently gets less than $10 in revenue from each Nokia Windows Phone sold , as compared to the $40 or so in profit margins Nokia stands to make. Of course, Nokia–and soon Microsoft–also has to build the phones, manage inventory, deal with carriers, etc. Plus, there’s still that pesky challenge of growing beyond single digit market share. “We’re the No. 3 smartphone player,” Ballmer said. “We have a long way to go and we have a lot we want to do.”

Read More

Media Device Stores and Shares Well With Others

August 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

[ See post to watch video ] Plenty of people are digital pack rats and proud of it. And why not? With seemingly unlimited remote storage options available free of charge or for a small monthly fee, they can store their digital photos, videos, music and other files in the cloud without worrying about running out of room. Personal devices are a different story. Smartphones and tablets with limited amounts of storage can quickly fill up with apps, photos and videos, forcing users to delete content on a regular basis. This week, I tested a gadget that may relieve some of that local storage burden and could serve as a media-sharing godsend on a long car trip: SanDisk’s $100 Connect Wireless Media Device. This 2.5-ounce gadget measures about the size of a pad of Post-it Notes and holds 64 gigabytes of photos, videos, music or other files. And here’s where it could come in handy in the car: The SanDisk can be accessed by up to eight devices simultaneously, with five of them streaming high-definition video from it at the same time. It’s on back order until next week from and Amazon. A 32-gigabyte version is available for $80 for people who can’t wait.

Read More

Better Late Than Never? Ballmer Product Pipeline Shows a Very Mixed Record for Microsoft.

August 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Larger-than-life CEO Steve Ballmer will be remembered for a lot of things during his 13-year tenure at Microsoft, but what about the actual products he oversaw? Overall, it is a very mixed bag, with Microsoft late on every major game-changer of Ballmer’s time in office, while rivals like Apple and Google surged ahead. That includes in MP3 players, multi-touch smartphones, multi-touch tablets, search, smart assistants and wireless beaming of video. Better late than never? Not so much. To get an idea of that, here’s a timeline of notable moments in Microsoft’s product history since 2000 and how they fared: Windows 2000 : Microsoft celebrates its 25th anniversary and releases the Windows 2000 operating system the same year Ballmer is promoted to CEO. Microsoft continues to upgrade and support Windows 2000 until July of 2010, during which time multiple vulnerabilities in the system were exposed. Pocket PC 2000 : Microsoft announced the Pocket PC 2000, the company’s first step in the personal digital assistant market. Two years later, the Pocket PC 2002 is released. Some of these Pocket PCs are sold as “phone editions,” meaning they can make cellular calls. Five years later, Microsoft phases out the Pocket PC and Smartphone brands in favor of the more overarching Windows Mobile brand. Windows XP : Touted as the “biggest release since Windows 95,” Microsoft releases the Windows XP operating system in October 2001 with variations of the system for both home and business users. “It features login screens for home and corporate systems alike — something many Windows 95/98 users have never seen,” CNET wrote at the time

Read More

With Shine, Misfit Says It Has Made a Wearable You’ll Actually Want to Wear

August 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

This week, a small, round, metal device will go on sale in the Apple Store. It has little lights on it. You snap it into a wristband or necklace, or on your shoe or belt. When you tap it, some of the lights will glow, relaying information to you. In a previous generation of tech, this token-like gadget, called the Shine, might go unnoticed on store shelves. It might be brushed off as jewelry, which, actually, is what it’s supposed to look like. But in the age of the “quantified self,” we wear our tech and crunch our own, personalized versions of big data. Instead of just using technology for productivity, or for communication, we are gazing ever more deeply at our our own navels, and analyzing the heck out of how active they’ve been today. The Misfit Shine joins at least three other wearable products on Apple Store shelves, including the Jawbone Up, the Nike+ FuelBand and various versions of the Fitbit. Like the Fitbit Flex, the Shine will retail for $100. In many ways, the Shine works much same way the others do: It has a tri-axis accelerometer. It records your activity data throughout the day and syncs wirelessly to an app on the iPhone. The app tells you to place the body of the Shine against your iPhone screen to sync the data. This borders on hokey; in my limited experience with the Shine, a tap on the phone’s screen will perform the same function. But the Shine, in addition to boasting a prominent co-founder (former Apple CEO John Sculley), a successful crowdfunding campaign, and more than $8 million raised from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Vinod Khosla’s Khosla Ventures, has a few features that might catch consumers’ eyes, or necks, or wrists. First, its design: The wristband — watch? — is all metal, made of a matte-aluminum material that’s both elegant and utilitarian. “Our main goal is wearability,” co-founder Sonny Vu said in an interview earlier this year with AllThingsD . “We have to make wearable technology wearable. Right now, it’s a lot of plastic out there

Read More

As Q2 Earnings Approaches, the Street Stays Bullish on Facebook’s Mobile Prospects

July 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Facebook’s S-1 filing in early 2012 came with a rude awakening we’re all quite familiar with by now; the world is going mobile, and Facebook’s ad business needed to adapt fast in order to keep up with it. Now, as Facebook prepares to report its second-quarter earnings this afternoon, something has shifted: Wall Street is actually optimistic at Facebook’s mobile monetization prospects. The Street’s consensus calls for earnings per share of 14 cents on revenues of $1.62 billion, an estimate up from the EPS of 12 cents on revenue of $1.18 billion reported during Q2 of last year. “While quarterly results at FB will likely remain volatile, we remain bullish on the direction and growth trajectory of the company,” Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia wrote in a research note this week. The biggest boon for some? The trending surge in Facebook’s mobile revenue figures seen in recent quarters. Mobile revenue accounted for nearly 30 percent of Facebook’s ad business in the first quarter of this year, which was already a jump up from 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. That’s expected by some analysts to grow, albeit slightly, to a daily run rate of nearly $5 million on mobile ads alone. Facebook has made it clear that at least one of its more recent ad products — mobile app installation ads — has been quite successful in driving growth, and J.P. Morgan’s Doug Anmuth expects that to continue. “We remain bullish as we believe ad dollars are increasingly shifting to online, mobile, and social and we expect Facebook to capture a growing portion of ad budgets going forward,” Anmuth wrote in a research note. The big unknowns are the usuals that we’ll be looking for. Will the company break out any metrics beyond its usual stats on daily and monthly active users? That may be something to watch for, given Facebook’s increasing competition for mindshare from other mobile-based sites like Snapchat, WhatsApp and International competitors like Line and KakaoTalk. Perhaps Facebook will detail some engagement-based stats that could rebut the chatter that the social giant is losing its cool with younger audiences . Another wild card: The oft-speculated eventual appearance of auto-play video ads in the News Feed.

Read More

U.S. Government Gets Approval to Keep Tracking Phone Records

July 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Well, at least this time they are telling everyone their phone records are being collected. The U.S. government said Friday that the secret foreign intelligence court has renewed its authorization to collect data over a wide range of phone calls. In June, the government confirmed that it had been collecting such records and declassified some information about the types of records that it had been collecting. Authorization for such collection was set to expire on July 19, but has now been reauthorized, according to a press release issued on Friday by the office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority,” the agency said. “The Administration is undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security.” The decision comes at a particularly sensitive time for the court, just a month after former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed details on a number of classified government data collection programs, much of which involved a number of major consumer technology companies.

Read More