Blackberry Creative Director Alicia Keys tweets from iPhone

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Blackberry’s move to make pop star Alicia Keys their ‘Creative Director’ may not have been the smartest thing. Keys was caught tweeting “Started from the bottom now were here!” from the Twitter for iPhone app. So what, you say. Celebrities use multiple devices all the time. While that may be the case, the pop star is allegedly a paid spokesperson who promised to be exclusive to Blackberry only about a month ago.

The original tweet (which referenced fellow music star Drake’s new album ‘Started from the bottom’, in case you are wondering) has since been deleted but the internet is always watching (and taking screenshots). In explanation, keys went for the perennial go-to celebrity excuse saying her account had been hacked. She wrote, “What the h*ll?!!!! Looks like I’ve been hacked… I like @Drake but that wasn’t my tweet :-(.”

Keys isn’t the first celebrity to experience problems in device choice. Last year, Oprah used an iPad to post tweets endorsing Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. However, Oprah wasn’t part of Microsoft’s corporate team.

Whether Alicia keys incorrectly sent the tweet herself (or even if one of her many assistants did) or was truly hacked will probably remain an internet mystery but the entire incident makes me sad for Blackberry. Partnering with a young hotshot in an effort to remain hip and trendy only to be cheated on – it’s the story of most aging tycoons.

Brett Ratner is bringing Farmville to your television

February 8, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Brett Ratner, who gave us such gems as the ‘Rush Hour’ franchise is all set to bring Zynga’s hugely popular social media game, “Farmville” to the small screen. Farmville and Farmville 2 draw millions of players everyday who compete to build their own elaborate virtual farms (corn growing included). It’s been one of the most popular games on Facebook since its launch in 2009.

Ratner will executive-produce the half-hour animated television series, which going by the game might be about hatching chickens and collecting gold coins.

“Farmville is one of the most exciting brands out there today and its cross-platform opportunities are endless. I am thrilled to be expanding the brand with existing fans and also engaging a whole new audience,” Ratner said in a statement.

There’s no confirmation of a network attached to the show yet.

Turning one of their games into a successful TV show might just be the shot in the arm Zynga needs to return back to form after having a rough financial year.

Although I am still wondering if we fast-forwarded to April 1st.

Major update for Google Earth

January 30, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Google has just made being an armchair tourist easier. The company has announced a major update to their Tour Guide feature on Google Earth for desktop, iOS and Android. Introduced in June last year, tour guide in Google Earth acts like a virtual destination expert, suggesting places you might want to explore and helping you learn more about them as you navigate the globe. Clicking on a tour will take you on a panoramic flyover of famous, historical and cultural sites close by. Facts from Wikipedia will also put in an appearance as you fly in and around locations like the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, and more.

With the new update comes over 100,000 new tours of popular sites, cities, and places across 200 countries. Also included are more than a million panoramic photos uploaded by Google Panoramio users and a place highlight option.

The updated Google Earth versions of the desktop and mobile apps are already available without additional downloading.

Find out more about tour guide by watching the video below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkkqKcN0s30&w=550&h=309]

The Firefox phone is coming to town

January 22, 2013 by  
Filed under News

The makers of popular web browser Firefox, have long been working on a mobile operating system to rival Android and iOS on the iPhone. It’s getting close to the finish line so Mozilla in collaboration with a company called Geeksphone will soon be selling two smartphones, Keon and Peak, running the new OS. The new phones are designated developer devices that will be used to test the Firefox OS and encourage developers to create apps for the system. They are expected to be released in February this year.

Firefox OS by Mozilla has been built entirely using open web standards and the new OS can also be installed on an Android device. It has been pitched as a low-cost competitor to Android, and there are also hints that the new handsets will be sold at low price-tags.

On Mozilla’s blogging site, the company says, ““We are now working on bringing the power of the web to mobile, through Firefox OS, along with all the power of open standards and an open community, and once again, we’d like to invite web developers to join us.“

Atari US files for bankruptcy

January 21, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Iconic video game pioneer Atari’s U.S. operations have filed for bankruptcy. The company plans to sell all its assets in the next three to four months.  The assets in question include classic video game franchises like Pong, Centipede, Missile Command and Asteroids.

Atari also plans to sell its logo and while that may sound desperate, it’s not quite game over yet. The move to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is designed to sever ties with its troubled French parent company Atari SA. It will also allow the company to secure independent funding to develop more games for digital and mobile platforms, which is the direction Atari US has been taking in recent years.

The video game maker has moved away from traditional retail sales to making mobile and digital versions of its classic games and licensing its logo. Releases for iOS and Android platforms have included Atari Greatest Hits and Asteroids Gunner.

In a statement, Atari said, “The Chapter 11 process constitutes the most strategic option for Atari’s U.S. operations as they look to preserve their inherent value and unlock revenue potential unrealized while under the control of Atari SA.”

Hi there, Mega

January 20, 2013 by  
Filed under News

The sequel to Megaupload.com is here and it’s called Mega. Its founder, the infamous Kim Dotcom launched the site with much fanfare today at his New Zealand mansion. Within just two hours Mega received 250,000 user registrations. In fact, as of writing this, the site is down due to user overload.

To say the new Mega has been launched amidst controversy is an understatement. Its launch date comes exactly one year after a raid on Kim Dotcom’s residence last year for alleged piracy through megaupload.com. The authorities were quick to shut down Megaupload, several lawsuits and reports of harassment followed. It was messy business. Further, in August this year the US extradition case against Kim Dotcom begins. However, larger than life Dotcom remained undaunted and promised he’d be back with a bang.

And now he is. The new Mega offers online storage for your files and other data. The free plan will give you 50GB of storage, paid plans range in prices but for Euros 9.99 (about AED 50) per month users receive 500GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth. Just this offer alone should cause competitors like Dropbox and Skydrive to fret.

But that’s not all that makes Mega stand out amongst rivals. The site’s boasting point is ‘security’ and so Mega generates a 2048-bit RSA key that is required for access to your files. Only users with the key will have access. What this incidentally does, besides making your data ultra secure, is protects the site’s owner from being accused of knowingly storing copyrighted materials because he cannot technically know the content of the files stored—only the user who uploaded the files and/or possesses the key can. In fact, Dotcom has cleverly branded Mega as the ‘Privacy Company’.

Previews for Mega have been positive. The site boasts a clean, simple and easy interface and an open API for developers. Future plans include mobile apps, on-site word processing, calendar and spreadsheet applications, a client for Windows, Mac and Linux and much more.

Whatever your thoughts on piracy on the internet, the Megaupload controversy and the audacious Dotcom, Mega is set to give serious competition to its rivals and be a talking point in the checkered history of the internet. That is, of course, when users can access it.

Mega can be found at mega.co.nz/

Low cost iPhone to debut late 2013?

January 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Apple, News

First reported by WSJ and followed by Bloomberg, news of a low cost iPhone to be released sometime in the latter half of 2013 has become the first Apple smartphone leak rumour of the new year.

According to the WSJ report, “the cheaper phone could resemble the standard iPhone, with a different, less-expensive body.” While Bloomberg is now reporting that the device will debut with a price tag of between $99 and $150. They also reveal that the company has been working on the new model since February last year and has spoken to at least one of the top U.S. wireless carriers about its plans.

Sales of the iPad Mini show that there is demand for low cost computing and has perhaps piqued Apple’s interest in capturing customers in emerging markets. But it may be remembered that rumours of low cost and smaller iPhones have been around since 2011 and nothing has materialized yet.

Bye bye Messenger, hello Skype

January 9, 2013 by  
Filed under News

March 15 2013 is designated the day Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger (WLM) will breathe its last. In an email to the 100 million plus users of WLM, Microsoft stated that it is retiring the popular messaging tool that was first launched in 1999 when it was known as MSN Messenger. Users will be moved to Skype which Microsoft acquired back in 2011 for $8.5 billion. But don’t worry about losing your data; the latest Skype update lets users transfer contacts from Messenger.

In the email Microsoft says, “On 15th March 2013 we are retiring the existing Messenger service globally (except for mainland China where Messenger will continue to be available) and bringing the great features of Messenger and Skype together. Update to Skype and sign in using a Microsoft Account (same as your Messenger ID) and all your Messenger contacts will be at your fingertips. You’ll be able to instant message and video chat with them just like before, and also discover new ways of staying in touch with Skype on your mobile and tablet”.

It’s all well and good that Microsoft wants to streamline its messaging service but the question remains, will users appreciate the forced move to Skype or will it encourage them to switch instead to rival platforms such as WhatsApp Messenger or Google Talk?

Google Maps returns to iOS

December 14, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Everybody’s favourite map service is back. The Google Maps iPhone app is now available, nearly three months after Apple booted it out as their built-in navigation system and replaced it with its own mapping software amidst much controversy.

Apple’s own map software proved less than stellar and became quite an embarrassment for the company.

But fans can breathe a sigh of relief because Google’s Maps app has been released and has quickly become the top-ranking free app in Apple’s iTunes store.

New features in the free iPhone app include voice guided turn-by-turn directions, street-level photography of local neighborhoods as well as three-dimensional views, public transit directions and listings for more than 80 million businesses around the world.

The only features not available in Google’s Map app for iOS that are offered by its Android counterpart are indoor maps, the ability to download maps for offline viewing, and voice search. However these are expected to be included in time.

YouTube gets a new look

December 7, 2012 by  
Filed under News

YouTube has unveiled a fresh new look that prioritizes channels that a user has subscribed to.

Your YouTube homepage will now center on the YouTube Guide which will alert you when new videos from your subscribed channels are available. The guide will also recommend videos and channels you might like based on what you and your friends regularly watch.

Other design changes include positioning the video on top of the page bringing it front and center to grab viewer attention, subscribe and sharing buttons as well as video information appear directly below the player, and overall the video sharing website now has a cleaner, sparser look. Additionally, playlists are now available to the right of videos, allowing the user to continue browsing other videos while they watch.

User subscriptions and your YouTube guide can be found on other devices beyond the PC, including Android, iPhone, PlayStation 3, and Google TV.

The new design is also aimed at helping YouTube content creators reach bigger fan bases more easily. Alandha Scott, Content Creator Communications Lead from the Official YouTube Partners & Creators Blog, said of the changes, “The new site design will help you build a bigger, more connected audience by improving new channel discovery, simplifying subscriptions, and keeping your fans plugged in and aware of your new videos no matter where they are.”

Do you like YouTube’s new look? Or like a certain social network’s frequent design changes, will you put up with it until you get used to it?

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