Posts Tagged ‘product news’

Ahead of New Show Debut, PBS Revamps Its Kids’ Site to Be More Mobile-Friendly

October 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In designing its PBS Kids website , the public broadcaster pays attention to all the ways kids are different from adults — making the buttons bigger, the characters more prominent, and the content a mix of play and learning. “Our goal is to engage them, make sure they are having fun, but teach,” said PBS VP Sara DeWitt. With 11 million unique visitors per month, DeWitt said, her team knows their site is often a child’s first experience with the Internet, and they take that opportunity seriously. The video player on the redesigned PBS Kids Web site But in its latest redesign, the company had to grapple with an issue facing adults and kids alike. More visits are coming from mobile devices. That meant the site needed to adapt easily to multiple screen sizes and drop Adobe Flash in favor of HTML5. Video is an especially important component, with PBS Kids serving 200 million streams per month. “Almost three-quarters of our video streaming traffic comes from mobile at this point,” DeWitt said in an interview. Though not a huge change, visually, the revamp was a major commitment, involving 12 of the PBS Kids’ 20 digital staffers working since May. The influence for the redesign was the company’s existing mobile apps. The new design comes as PBS prepares to debut its newest show next week — “ Peg+Cat .” With “Peg+Cat,” PBS is also doing a new tablet app that plays on the math and music themes of the show to provide an interactive way for kids to play with the characters on the show while also learning some additional concepts. The app features both a structured “Big Gig” area that uses songs from the show and a free-play “Sound Check” zone, where kids can have a more open-ended experience. The heavily Flash-based PBS Kids site, prior to this recent redesign. As important as the apps and websites, DeWitt said, is coming up with things parents can do apart from the computer or tablet to build on the show’s lessons. The educational space is a crowded one, DeWitt said, with tons of apps teaching counting and the ABCs

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Kids Won’t Read Investigative Journalism — But Maybe They’ll Play a Videogame With the Same Message

October 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s hard enough to get adults to read serious journalism online. Even on its homepage, the Center for Investigative Reporting has “Read This Later” links to let readers save its articles (which sometimes run longer than 3,000 words) to Instapaper or Pocket. But sometimes investigative pieces like the ones found at CIR also pertain to children. To get those same facts across in a kid-friendly format, the nonprofit is this week rolling out a game, Hairnet Hero, with the help of a Berkeley, Calif.-based animation studio, Coco Studios . Hairnet Hero aims to “teach kids what’s in their food” by asking them to build a healthy school lunch, which CIR’s reporting has shown to be extremely difficult . Senior manager Meghann Farnsworth said the organization also hopes that parents and teachers will use it as a new way to approach the topic of healthy eating — and maybe learn a few things themselves. “I didn’t know how much sodium was in a doughnut,” she said. It’s an interesting twist on traditional “advergaming” — think Chipotle’s buzzy Scarecrow game — in which games are served up with a targeted message, explicitly or implicitly. Unlike edutainment (another unwieldy portmanteau), the goal isn’t to teach a skill, but rather to sell a brand’s value. In CIR’s case, that’s trustworthy donation-funded journalism. Hairnet Hero originated at the TechRaking conference last year, but the bigger goal of reaching children started with a coloring book about earthquake safety that CIR published last year under its website’s “ Junior Watchdogs ” section for kids.

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Intel Looking for Help from Amazon or Samsung to Keep Its Web TV Project Alive

September 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Erik Huggers Intel executives, who have promised to launch a Web-based pay TV service by the end of 2013, are now looking for a strategic backer to help them fund and distribute the service. If they don’t find one soon, it’s possible the project will be scrapped. People familiar with Intel’s plans said the company has been talking to both Amazon and Samsung in the hope of keeping the service afloat. Executives from Amazon and Intel declined to comment; I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung reps. In February, Intel executive Erik Huggers said he planned to start selling an “over the top” pay TV service that would contain a full compliment of broadcast and cable TV networks, by the end of the year. Other technology players, including Google, Apple and Sony, have pondered a similar service, though none of them have publicly committed to the idea. But Intel has yet to finalize a deal with a major TV programmer. And new CEO Brian Krzanich, who took over the company in May, has made a point of striking a tentative tone when discussing Intel’s TV ambitions .

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Valve Bringing PC Gaming to the Living Room With Steam Machines

September 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Right now, you might be mulling which new game console to get when the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 go on sale in November. But here’s something else to consider. Today, Valve, the creators of such PC games as Half-Life and Portal and the company behind the Steam online gaming platform, announced that it’s getting into the console business with not just one machine but a range of products for the living room. The line will be called Steam Machines , and they will all run on SteamOS , the company’s new Linux-based, living room-optimized platform, which it announced on Monday. “Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014,” the company wrote on its website. Valve didn’t specify which manufacturers it is working with or provide any details about the consoles themselves, though it did state in its FAQ that it is building a range of boxes that will be optimized for size, price, quietness and other factors. While those products are still in development, Valve has created a prototype and plans to ship 300 of them for free to Steam users this year for testing. You can apply to be one of those lucky souls by signing up for the beta program here ; the deadline is Oct. 25. Testers will be able to play almost all of the 3,000 games available on Steam, and can play using gamepads or with a keyboard and mouse. Valve said it will offer other methods of input, too. And users will be allowed to share their experiences and feedback with everyone online. Bringing PC gaming into the living room is something Valve has been working toward since last year, when the company introduced a feature called Big Picture that allowed PC games to be played on the TV. Though a big challenge, the variety of products and openness of the platform could prove to be competition for the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. The company isn’t done just yet either. Valve is expected to make one final announcement on Friday.

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Early Measure Shows Massive iOS 7 Adoption on Day 1

September 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It took some iPhone owners a while to get it, but clearly a ton of Apple users downloaded iOS 7 on Wednesday–the first day it was available. A study from mobile advertising network Chitika showed that less than 24 hours after being made available, iOS 7 was accounting for just more than 18 percent of North American iOS traffic on the sites it tracks. That’s three percentage points higher than Chitika saw for iOS 6 in its first day. “This level of adoption represents another proverbial feather in the cap of Apple, as it bests the impressive adoption rates of iOS 6 in the same time period last year,” Chitika said in a report to be published on Thursday. Although it’s only one measure, Chitika’s numbers clearly show a huge number of Apple users couldn’t wait to try out the new operating system. (While iOS 7 had been in beta testing, only about half a percent of users were using iOS 7 prior to its official launch on Wednesday.)

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Adobe to Launch Project Mighty Digital Pen for Creative Professionals, Instagram Generation

September 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

You may know Adobe as a creative software company, but soon, it will also be in the creative hardware business. Today, Adobe announced that it plans to bring its Project Mighty cloud-connected pen and Project Napoleon digital ruler to the market in the first half of 2014. Both will be manufactured by Adonit , an Austin-based company that makes styli for the iPhone and iPad. First introduced at the Adobe Max conference in May, Project Mighty is a digital stylus that works with the iPad and Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so you can carry and work on your drawings on multiple devices. The Bluetooth-enabled pen is pressure sensitive, allowing you to draw lines of varying width. And a button near the base of the pen brings up various tools, like different pencil tips and colors. Meanwhile, Project Napoleon is a digital ruler that projects guidelines when placed on the screen, so you can can draw precise lines and edges for architectural projects and the like. In addition, Adobe developed two apps from the ground up for Napolean: a drafting app called Project Parallel and Project Contour, which is similar to Adobe’s Kuler app but for shapes. It’s all an interesting idea, and I had fun playing around with the devices when I visited Adobe last week. But why is the company getting into the hardware business? Michael Gough, vice president of experience design at Adobe, said part of the reason is because the company realized that its core customers were changing. “Our current base of professional creatives are changing dramatically

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Startup Looks to Bring Kinect-Like Camera to the iPad (Video)

September 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Occipital, a company best known for an app that lets users take panoramic photos from their phone , is looking to get into hardware. On Tuesday, Occipital is announcing plans for Structure Sensor, a 3-D camera that brings Kinect-style depth sensing abilities to the iPad and other mobile devices. Attaching such a camera to a phone or tablet paves the way for use in other contexts, including object scanning and augmented reality. Although Occipital is showing off the sensor on Tuesday, it won’t be ready for mainstream consumers until sometime in the middle of next year. The company is launching the product first for developers who order the device on Kickstarter . Doing so, says Occipital CEO Jeff Powers, will get the device into production quicker. “We really wanted to get feedback from the world,” Powers told AllThingsD . “We wanted to also be the first to do this. There’s something about being the first to bring the sensor.” Getting a consumer-ready product with three or four fully functioning apps would have meant waiting another year or more. Kickstarter backers willing to pay $500 for a developer kit will get a hand-assembled beta version by this December, while those who pay $349 can get a developer unit around February. The Structure Sensor is designed to fit directly onto an iPad to link up with its camera, but uses Bluetooth so it could be connected with other phones and tablets. Backers who pay $349 get to choose either an iPad or non-iPad version, while those paying $379 or more will get both attachment options. The hope is that the developers will not only serve as early enthusiast customers, but also help create the killer apps that will make the Structure Sensor worth it for consumers. Occipital, which managed to cram PrimeSense’s full-size sensor into a mobile device is likely to face significant competition in the market for mobile-compatible 3-D cameras. Intel talked at last week’s developer conference about including 3-D cameras into future Ultrabooks , while imaging-sensor maker PrimeSense has its own Capri sensor that is designed to go into smaller devices

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Apple’s New Ad Grabs One of Rock’s Best Songs

September 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

There’s a new Apple ad. It’s for the iPhone 5c. No need to say much. But since you are still here, here’s the source file for the ad’s soundtrack, via Sleigh Bells’ 2010 “Rill Rill”: Still here? All right! Now things get really good, because you get to hear the source file for “Rill Rill,” courtesy of Funkadelic. For some reason, this 1971 song got renewed life in the last few years*. Which is great, because it’s one of the best songs ever: Ah.

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Michael Dell Says He’s Not Taking Company Back Into the Phone Business

September 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Michael Dell has lots of plans for his soon-to-be-privately-held company . But getting back into the mobile phone business is apparently not on the list. “We’re not getting in the mobile phone business,” Dell said in an interview with CNBC on Friday. Instead, Dell said, the company will look to benefit from the mobile market in other ways. “Every time a new mobile company gets born, they need servers and infrastructure and storage,” Dell told CNBC. “Companies need to protect and secure their data on these mobile devices.” For those who have forgotten, Dell made several stabs into the phone market with both Android and Windows Phone products before stepping to the sidelines. Heck, the company was arguably a pioneer of the phablet, introducing the five-inch Dell Streak way back in 2010 at our D8 conference (and then discontinuing it in 2011 ). None of those efforts won much love from either carriers or customers, though, and Dell hasn’t been making phones for some time . Dell said the company would focus on other areas, particularly business products and services, as well as products for emerging markets. Tablets will be a piece of Dell’s business, he said.

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Chair Entertainment Founder: "I Cannot Wait" for Physical Controllers for iPhones

September 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At Apple’s iPhone 5c/5s event on Tuesday, Chair Entertainment co-founder and creative director Donald Mustard debuted Infinity Blade 3 , the newest game in the popular iOS sword-fighting series. Naturally, he’s making the rounds this week to talk about the new game and how it takes advantage of the iPhone’s hardware … but that’s not stopping him from hinting at more to come. Mustard characterized Infinity Blade 3 as a “statement” of the power of touchscreen design, saying the series “spawned a whole new genre of game .” However, absent from the iPhone event this week was an update on how iOS 7 will support physical game controller peripherals, one of the features mentioned at this year’s WWDC keynote. Mustard said he’s excited for that eventuality. “I cannot wait for the day when we can make a mobile game that’s supported by a more traditional controller,” he said. He said fans have asked him when Chair would make a touchscreen version of one of its pre-Infinity Blade games, Shadow Complex. The answer: never! “Shadow Complex wouldn’t be good with touchscreen controls,” Mustard said, adding that Infinity Blade would not work as well on Xbox. If Chair makes a mobile game for a physical controller peripheral, he said, it “would want to design the experience from the ground up.” It would also be possible to have a mobile game that combines both forms of control, he mused. In the meantime, though, Infinity Blade 3 at least looked good in Mustard’s demo. The battle he showed off on the iPhone 5s featured an imposing and smoothly animated dragon, which was far larger than the game series’ previous bosses. Although the dragon will look best on the 5s, it and other animations in the game will still look “awesome” on the iPhone 4, Mustard said, calling the latter device “still pretty damn powerful.” IB3 will cost $6.99 when it goes on sale for iOS devices on Sept. 20, timed to the launch of the 5c and 5s.

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