Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 which comes with a Hovering S Pen ! #MWC2013


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MWC 2013, Barcelona:

Samsung’s newest Note, The Galaxy 8.0, an updated, larger Galaxy Note from Samsung was inevitable. Given the undeniable popularity of mid-size tablets it’s no surprise the Korean electronics giant would want to strengthen its grip in a category it helped create. It was just three short years ago that Samsung introduced the Galaxy Tab and now, three Notes later, it’s ready to perfect the one-handed experience. With this new Note, the company’s culled the best of what’s around its Galaxy into an 8-inch form factor, housing a 1,280 x 800 TFT display, Exynos 4 Quad with 2GB RAM (clocked at 1.6GHz), TouchWiz-skinned Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 OS, S Pen (and suite of associated apps), as well as radios for HSPA+ and WiFi into that familiar, lightweight plastic body.

Hardware View:

But that extra inch alone isn’t the Galaxy Note 8.0’s main attraction. Samsung’s wisely made use of the additional screen real estate to bundle two extra features. Building upon market research that indicates over 80-percent of tablet use takes place within the living room, the company’s partnered with Peel for its Smart Remote app, a visual programming guide with remote control functions baked-in that comes pre-loaded on the tab. And, in keeping with its portrait oriented design, the Note 8.0 also incorporates what the company calls “reading mode,” effectively optimizing the slate’s display for comfortable e-book use.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with the Note II, you’ll know what to expect from the Note 8.0 as its external design is incredibly similar. You get the same all around plastic build — ringed here with metal — ports for microSD and micro-SIM, 3.5mm headphone jack and physical home key. But where the Note 8.0 strays is one of its key improvements: users can now effect the capacitive menu and back buttons using the S Pen.

Admittedly, it takes a bit of retraining to get used to — you’ll want to use your finger out of habit — but it’s a wonder Samsung took so long to implement something so crucial. So, you can officially hang up that gripe right now. The S Pen comes with a functionality which can be named as “Hovering.” Samsung’s S Pen stylus has been upgraded to work both on the touchscreen of the Note 8.0 as well as with the physical navigation buttons, and Samsung is also extending the functionality of the pen in other ways. And the Air View feature, where users can initiate previews by hovering their pen over something without touching the screen, is now getting expanded to third party apps. The first of these is a new version of the Flipboard social newsreading app, where users can select and expand a tile by hovering the pen over a selection.

At 338 grams (11.9 ounces), the Note 8.0’s not much heavier than the iPad mini and as it’s made to be held one-handed, you shouldn’t feel much wrist strain with extended use. We were able to comfortably grip the entire back of the 7.95mm thick tablet, which measures 210.8mm x 135.9mm (8.3 x 5.4 inches), in our hand while navigating with the S Pen in the other. The Note 8.0’s back is non-removable, but that bit’s rendered moot by the accessibility of the microSD and micro-SIM slots on the tablet’s left edge and a sealed 4,600mAh battery.

With a 1.6GHz Eynos 4 Quad CPU and 2GB RAM under the hood, you’d expect the Note 8.0 to showcase nothing but brisk performance. Unfortunately, that didn’t appear to be the case as there were occasional moments where the tablet seemed toslightly hesitate before executing actions — things like dual window view for multitasking or simple app launches. This being the tablet’s official unveiling, it’s quite possible the model we handled could still benefit from software optimization. So, we’ll refrain from passing definitive judgement until a final review unit is in our hands. Apart from that, viewing angles held up well and display brightness shouldn’t pose a major issue outdoors in bright sunlight. Though, it is weird to see a Samsung product without an AMOLED screen — this one’s TFT.

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Reading mode and Smart Remote are clearly the Note 8.0’s two biggest software features, but to make the tab just a bit more alluring, Samsung’s pre-loading two other applications suited to the Note 8.0’s form and function. Out of the box, users will have access to an S Pen-optimized version of Flipboard which enables Air View hover functionality and headline previews from the main tile page (up to three, in our experience). Also, as a first for Android and Samsung, Awesome Note (a cloud-based annotation app previously available only on iOS) has been integrated into the device as a free service, exclusive to the OEM for one year.

With the Note 8.0, Samsung is also ushering in a couple of new developments on the apps front, in addition to the new version of Flipboard.

In keeping with Samsung’s original vision of the Note acting as a kind of organizer and productivity device — more screen than a phone for planning; but smaller than a tablet to make it portable — Samsung has scooped an exclusive on a new Android app launch. Awesome Note, a note-taking that lets you track progress and make lists across different categories, has up to now only been available for iOS devices, where the full edition of the app for iPad retails at $4.99.

Now developers Bird are releasing an Android version, and while this will also be sold as a paid app in the Google Play store, Samsung will be bundling it as a free app on the Note 8.0 “for at least a year,” according to Michael Lin, marketing manager, Samsung Electronics.

Other apps that will be preloaded on the device include the newest version (2.0) of Chat-On, Samsung’s cross-platform, cross-media group and direct messaging service; Reading Mode that modifies the screen brightness for reading; and Smart Remote, Samsung’s universal remote control and electronic program guide, playing into the fact that nowadays a lot of consumers (80% in the U.S., claims Samsung) use a second device like a tablet while watching TV

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the global version of the Note 8.0 also packs HSPA+ 21 connectivity (850/900/1900/2100MHz). So, yes, you will be able to hold it up to your head and make voice calls however silly that may look. Of course, it’s more likely that prospective users will want to pair the tab with earbuds and thus reduce the risk of public humiliation. But this voice call perk won’t be heading stateside. Samsung’s confirmed to us that, as of now, the US market will see a WiFi-only variant and its specs could change slightly, too. An LTE variant is also on deck.

Details on pricing and regional release dates are still be announced. Just don’t hold your breath for that news to come this week. What we do know for certain is that there’ll be two storage configurations — 16GB and 32GB — for the global unit’s launch sometime this second quarter. So while you wait for the Note 8.0 to make its slow crawl to market, check out the demo video and feel free to drop in your comments below.

[via Engadget, TechCrunch]

#Apple Entering into the Gaming Industry. [INFO]


Apple entering the gaming industry  has been a topic of discussion for a long time. Some people think they already made their move and it’s still playing out. Some people think they are yet to drop the bomb. Most oversimply the issue.

There’s a funny thing, though, about the way proponents of Apple (I say this without denigration) cheer-lead their champion. In a lot of ways, there’s already an Apple in the games industry: it’s the Games Industry. Apple is filling the position in the games industry that Android fills in the mobile world.

Part of what makes it problematic to discuss is that is that it’s really difficult to disentangle content from platform these days, both in mobile and gaming (and mobile gaming, for that matter). The complex network of relationships, channels, and emerging methods for distribution make practically every comparison apples to oranges.

I’m not going to unravel that knot just now. I’ll get to the nut of the issue instead of dancing around it.

One of Apple’s greatest strengths, something that it understood early and has exploited continuously, is the value of the premium platform — including hardware, of course. They were always, and remain, the premium choice in consumer tech. As others have put it, this moots certain comparisons: you can’t, they say, compare a Ferrari to a Toyota. And that idea is not without legitimacy.

So it’s funny when the opposite seems to apply for the games industry. There’s already a premium product out there: the triple-A games produced by huge studios like Ubisoft, EA, Valve, and so on. The Xbox 360 and PS3, and soon the Xbox 720 and PS4, or whatever they’re called, have always been and will continue to be the premium platform — something that has worked well for Apple elsewhere, and something they’ll never be in the games space.

Why? Here’s that content-platform thing again. Apple simply isn’t a triple-A platform for games. Sure, there are great games on it, good-looking games, expensive games. And millions of people play them. But let’s not kid ourselves.

Notice that almost everything relating to the success of games on iOS is in terms of numbers downloaded and hours played. In like wise, one could say that YouTube is far more of a success than Hollywood, based on viewer hours. In a way, it’s true! But what is iOS’s Godfather? What is its Shadow of the Colossus? Angry Birds and Infinity Blade are arguably is the closest thing to either. Talk about comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota.

In the other corner is a premium platform with exclusive, popular content — the very thing Apple was when Android entered the scene. And now Apple is playing the scrappy underdog, eating up all the low-end users, winning on volume instead of quality. It’s the same strategy that provokes such venom against Android! Thousands of options, barely differentiated, priced to sell, with wildly varying quality, except for a few high-end flagship items – am I talking about Android handsets or the games in the App Store? Hard to tell, isn’t it?

And of course, that’s a recipe for success, as either Apple or Google can tell you. But again, as either can tell you, it’s hardly a recipe for total domination. For that, one must control the vertical and the horizontal.

All the same, it’s funny to see the bottom-up strategy of the App Store and Android reviled one moment and then praised the next.


So far, so obvious. But the unknown creeps in when you consider how platforms may evolve over the next five years — which is about what we can realistically expect for the life of the next consoles, with increased entropy due to changing markets.

The platform/content thing enters again, bringing with it quite a bit of uncertainty. How long is Call of Duty and its ilk going to remain a console exclusive? It’s practical now, and I’m willing to speculate that it will be practical two years from now. After that, things get more hazy.

The way people acquire and play games is changing in a serious way. Will the next consoles have huge hard drives to store downloaded games? Will they stream them over high-speed internet? Will they integrate with smartphones? Will they use discs? Will they allow used games? Will they replace your set-top box? Will they be open to hacking? The answers to the questions are maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, and that’s hilarious. And there are a lot of other questions that will need to be answered before we can really start making predictions.

What about Microsoft, whose long-term three-screen plan is in serious jeopardy? What about Sony, which is in many ways falling to pieces (not in all cases a bad thing)? What about Google, which is a total wildcard? What about the publishers, who know which way the wind is blowing but can’t abandon ship yet?

There are too many variables to say with any kind of assurance how things will be in a few years. Apple will continue to make its play for the living room, but supplanting the consoles is out of the question (not that many have advanced this notion). But it isn’t going to enter the space in a way that requires them to abandon the last five years of app and device development, and they’re not going to compete directly against an opponent that offers a product they can’t hope to match. They may like to lead the charge, but they’re no Leeroy Jenkins.

 

BlueStacks – Rumored to bring Android Apps To WindowsRT Devices, Hits 5Million Installs.


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It appears that BlueStacks isn’t just a flash in the pan. The Silicon Valley-based start up, which makes software that allows users to run their Android apps on Macs and PCs, said today that it has passed 5 million organic installs through its homepage. Vanity stats like this are annoying, yes, but what’s notable is that BlueStacks hit this milestone in under eight months. And the news comes on top of its recent partnerships with AMD and Asus, which have announced their intention to pre-load BlueStacks’ technology on over 100 million units.

In September, BlueStacks announced a partnership with chipmaker AMD, which brought its app catalog to AMD-powered Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines through the launch of its new app store, AppZone. As Sarah pointed out at the time, much like AppUp, Intel’s app store for PCs that “has been optimized to run on Intel-powered Ultrabooks,” with AppZone, the chipmaker optimized BlueStacks’ technology for AMD GPUs and APUs.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the chipmakers began implementing the startup’s technology, as AMD was the lead strategic investor in BlueStacks’ $6.4 million series B raise in October of last year. The round brought the company’s total investment to $15 million and saw AMD join investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Ventures, Citrix and Qualcomm.

It’s unusual for software makers and manufacturers like Citrix, Qualcomm and AMD to show up on the same roster of investors, yet, as Sarah said, it was a demonstration of an eagerness among investors to leverage the Windows ecosystem as a platform to run Android apps.

The partnerships with AMD and Asus and its backing from Qualcomm also set the stage for BlueStacks to team up with additional manufacturers to pre-install its technology on PCs. The big-picture goal for the startup is to help bring the some 750K Android apps to each and every one of the billion-plus PC users out there. It’s a sizable opportunity, another part of the reason investors (and chipmakers) are eager to test the waters.

BlueStacks’ technology allows users to run graphics-intensive Android apps on desktop PCs via its patent-pending “Layercake” technology, which initially enabled Android apps to be compatible with x86-based PCs, followed by Macs, and now includes those developed for ARM processors — Angry Birds Space and Fruit Ninja being two familiar examples. (More on this below.)

The company has been looking to build a developer platform, as well, and has been partnering with the makers of apps like Fruit Ninja, SliceIt!, Townsmen, Evernote, StumbleUpon and Barnes & Noble (Nook). The main selling point being that developers don’t have to modify or port their apps to run them on PCs, which means less heavy lifting for those who have already developed apps for Android.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 3.08.44 PMTo this point, HandyGames CEO Christopher Kassulke let it slip last night at Mobile Gaming Europe that HandyGames will be launching their uber popular Clouds and Sheep as a PC game using BlueStacks. And the more big app development houses begin signing on, the more BlueStacks thinks that it’s helping to create a crack in the wall between mobile and PC gaming.

But here’s what could be most exciting for developers (and users) looking at developing for (or buying) Windows mobile devices. The newly released Windows RT, for those unfamiliar, is a special version of Windows 8 built for mobile (specifically ARM) devices — so, really, tablets. If somehow you haven’t noticed, Microsoft has been pushing its new Surface tablets pretty aggressively since their initial release in late October, partly manifesting through that snappy, percussive ad campaign you’ve probably seen by now on the tube. The main mobile OS being offered by the Surface? Windows RT.

As of now, consumers can buy a number of ARM-powered Windows RT devices, and there are more coming. But Surface currently has the highest profile among these tablets and devices, yet, the problem is that they’re not selling as well as Microsoft would have hoped. According to Tech Report, MSFT’s initial order of 4 million Surface devices has been cut in half thanks to slow sales.

Leaving the device itself out of it, probably the biggest reason for this boils down to apps. Compared to iOS and Android, few developers have built native apps for Windows 8. Even if consumers want to buy the Surface, many would rather opt for an Android or iOS device, because they offer far more access to the apps we’ve all grown accustomed to using on a daily basis.

So, naturally, rumors have begun to mount that BlueStacks’ next project will be to make its tech available to Windows RT users. As evidenced in this forum, hilariously, it appears that Microsoft salespeople have even begun to suggest using BlueStacks if users want to buy a Windows device and get access to Android apps.

The Droid Guy was one of the first to pick up on the BlueStacks, Windows RT rumors, as a BlueStacks team member recently divulged in a separate forum that the company was in the process of bringing those 750K+ Android apps to Windows RT. BlueStacks Engineer Deepak Sharma, via The Droid Guy: “We are considering offering BlueStacks for Windows RT next year.”

BlueStacks team members approached by TechCrunch would not confirm that this is in fact happening, but from what we’ve been able to gather from other sources, it seems there’s a good chance this could happen in early 2013.

However, as The Droid Guy points out, Microsoft’s Windows Defender could pose problems in this regard, as it could force BlueStacks to release its own app on the Windows Store, which, knowing Microsoft, would likely be disapproved. Until then, BlueStacks works well with Windows 8 Pro-based tablets and devices, but if BlueStacks is able to produce an ARM version of its technology, this could be a big boost both for the startup and for those looking for access to a viable app platform on their new Windows device.

With support for both ARM and Windows 8 Pro, developers could significantly increase their distribution without having to develop native apps for Windows devices — great for them but, again, not something that Microsoft is likely to get too jazzed about.

For more, find BlueStacks at home here.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 3.10.26 PM

(-via TC)

Now Microsoft Office for Apple iPad, may launch by Nov 10.


The much awaited Microsoft Office productivity suite for Apple iPad will launch on November 10 this year, according to a report of The Daily.

So far, Apple iPad users have been using the Apple’s iLife set of apps which are equivalent solution for the Microsoft Office suite. However, folks who require using MS Office day in and out, heavily demanded the MS Office apps for the iPad tablet.

The Office apps for the iPad tablet are being tested internally and expected to release in early November. Apparently, the app will feature Metro UI despite of being on iPad tablet to keep the visual connect between the app and the Windows 8.

Image courtesy: The Daily.

Alongside the MS Office for iPad, the company is also expected to release MS Office for Android. Currently the iPad users have to use the alternative apps that cost about $10 each.

More Detailed on it :

The date was reported on Thursday by The Daily, which said that the development team at Microsoft finished work on the project last month. The design team responsible for Office on iPad was also said to have wrapped their work soon after.

“The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for ‘Metro compliance’ and suggests changes as needed,” reporter Matt Hickey wrote. “When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks.”

While development of the application is apparently near finished, Thursday’s report did not give any indication as to why Microsoft will wait more than five months to release the application on Nov. 10. The story corroborates with a report from last week that claimed Microsoft’s industry leading productivity suite will be coming to the iPad and Android-based tablets in November.

Word first surfaced late last year that Microsoft was working on an iOS version of its Office suite. It was also said that the Redmond, Wash., software company planned to release an updated version of Office for Mac on Apple’s digital distribution Mac App Store.

The Daily first shared what was said to be a picture of Office for iPad in action in February. However, Microsoft quickly responded to the report and portrayed it as “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.”

Microsoft is also working on a new native iOS application for Outlook Web App, called “OWA Mobile Client for iOS,” that will offer compatibility with Exchange 2012 mailboxes. It, along with a new version of the Lync application for iOS, will reportedly feature Microsoft’s Metro interface, just like Office for iPad is expected to do.

Earlier reports claimed that Office for iPad will allow users to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. We were told last week that Office for iPad will not include dedicated Outlook functionality, as that ability will apparently be restricted to the forthcoming OWA Mobile Client application.

-(via CNNIBN, AppleInsider)

IBM Faces the Perils of “Bring Your Own Device.” Manages 80,000 and more…


When IBM loosened its restrictions on the smartphones and tablets its employees could use for work, the company got a lesson in IT management of the kind it usually sells to clients.

In 2010, like many large companies in recent years, IBM adopted a “bring your own device” policy, meaning that employees who want to work outside the office don’t have to use a smart phone provided by the company. Although IBM still gives BlackBerrys to about 40,000 of its 400,000 employees, 80,000 other workers now reach internal IBM networks using other smartphones and tablets, including ones they purchased for themselves.

The trend toward employee-owned devices isn’t saving IBM any money, says Jeanette Horan, who is IBM’s chief information officer and oversees all the company’s internal use of IT. Instead, she says, it has created new challenges for her department of 5,000 people, because employees’ devices are full of software that IBM doesn’t control.

Horan says that when IBM surveyed several hundred employees using mobile devices, many were “blissfully unaware” of what popular apps could be security risks.

Since then, Horan’s team has established guidelines about which apps IBM employees can use and which they should avoid. On the list of banned apps are public file-transfer services such as Dropbox; Horan says IBM fears that using such software could allow sensitive information to get loose. In the survey, other employees were found to be violating protocol by automatically forwarding their IBM e-mail to public Web mail services or using their smart phones to create open Wi-Fi hotspots, which make data vulnerable to snoops.

“We found a tremendous lack of awareness as to what constitutes a risk,” says Horan. So now, she says, “we’re trying to make people aware.”

Horan isn’t only trying to educate IBM workers about computer security. She’s also enforcing better security. Before an employee’s own device can be used to access IBM networks, the IT department configures it so that its memory can be erased remotely if it is lost or stolen. The IT crew also disables public file-transfer programs like Apple’s iCloud; instead, employees use an IBM-hosted version called MyMobileHub. IBM even turns off Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant, on employees’ iPhones. The company worries that the spoken queries might be stored somewhere.

“We’re just extraordinarily conservative,” Horan says. “It’s the nature of our business.”

Horan’s division faces new complexities as it manages a growing number of devices that don’t come with as much security as BlackBerry phones. Even though the configuration of devices all happens remotely—the updates are beamed to the phones over the air—it is still cumbersome. Each employee’s device is treated differently, depending on what model it is and what the person’s job responsibilities are. Some people are only permitted to receive IBM e-mail, calendars, and contacts on their portable devices, while others can access internal IBM applications and files.

For employees in the latter category, Horan’s team equips phones with additional software, such as programs that encrypt information as it travels to and from corporate networks. The options vary even further; the IT department can match an employee with one of about 12 different “personas” that dictate what he or she is allowed to do on a mobile device, says Bill Bodin, IBM’s chief technology officer for mobility.

The kinds of challenges IBM faces are becoming increasingly common. Surveys have shown that more than half of large companies are catering to their employees’ desire to use their own smart phones, and as a result, the market for “mobile-device management” tools is booming. A January report by Forrester Research counted more than 40 companies offering such services.

Bodin expects device management to get even more complex in the coming years, but perhaps less restrictive, too. For instance, instead of making employees avoid apps like iCloud entirely, employers someday might be able to turn off just the two or three functions that worry them. Whatever happens, fewer and fewer IT departments will own their employees’ equipment. “The genie is out of the bottle,” says Bodin.

Facebook buys Instagram for $1Billion.


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Facebook has just finished a deal to acquire mobile photo sharing app Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock. Instagram will remain an independently branded standalone app that’s separate from Facebook, but the services will increase their ties to each other. The transaction should go through this quarter pending some standard closing procedures

Last year, documents for a standalone Facebook mobile photo sharing app were attained by us. Now it seems Facebook would rather buy Instagram which comes with a built-in community of photographers and photo lovers, while simultaneously squashing a threat to its dominance in photo sharing.

At 27 million registered users on iOS alone, Instagram was increasingly positioning itself as a social network in its own right — not just a photo-sharing app. And it was clear that some users were doing more of the daily sharing activities on Instagram rather than Facebook’s all-in-one mobile apps, which had to be cluttered with nearly every feature of the desktop site.

With the Instagram for Android launch last week, Instagram was going to get to 50 million registered users in a heartbeat after racking up more than 1 million in the first 24 hours. And with that kind of momentum, Facebook felt like it had to move — fast. After all, photo sharing and tagging are arguably what *made* Facebook.

Whatever you think of the price given the fact that Instagram had no revenues, the reality is it was going to be worth whatever Mark Zuckerberg felt like paying for it. Both Google and Facebook had approached Instagram several times over the past 18 months, but the talks clearly didn’t result in a deal. So Facebook was going to have to offer a huge premium over the last valuation for Systrom and the board to take any deal seriously.

[Instagram’s founders from left, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. Portrait by Cody Pickens]

With the deal, Instagram will gain massive design and engineering resources by joining forces with Facebook, a big change after running as a famously lean company with just a handful of employees. Still, the deal seems to let Instagram stay somewhat independent and maintain some of its company culture. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom writes in a blog post, “It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away.”

This is a really big departure from the way Zuckerberg has historically run Facebook as asingle product. He has always been insistent that everything feed back into Facebook itself. Keeping Instagram as a separate product and brand is reminiscent of what Google has done with keeping YouTube and Android as separate fiefdoms within the company following their acquisitions.

Instagram’s investors included Benchmark Capital, Greylock Capital, Thrive Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, along with angel investors including Quora’s Adam D’Angelo, Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca and Square and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.

The early investors must be thrilled with the price. From our understanding, the later investors, who put capital into the company at a $500 million valuation, seem happy with basically getting a 2X in a few days after the money was wired last Thursday.

Mark Zuckerberg posted the following letter to his Timeline about the purchase:

I’m excited to share the news that we’ve agreed to acquire Instagram and that their talented team will be joining Facebook.

For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure.

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

We’re looking forward to working with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.

Instagram on Android now. [PHOTOGRAPHY]


Instagram

Hello folks. It is a very good news for Android users, namely because photo-sharing darling Instagram is now available in the Android Market. If you want to hurry up and try it out without having to read the rest of this (it’s that intuitive), you can download the app here. And go ahead and skip to Paragraph 7 if you already use Instagram on iOS, and don’t want to have to sit through a noob explainer.

For Beginners

For those of you who are new to the entire Instagram experience, the app is pretty simple, and that’s what makes it amazing. To use Instagram just open it up and either capture a photo or choose an existing one from your photo library. Once uploaded, the app allows you to move and scale your image. After you’ve selected a composition, you can run the image through the ‘Lux’ feature by pressing the Sun icon in the far left of the next screen (Lux, similar to Camera+’s ‘Clarity,’ amps up photos by boosting their contrast).

While on this step, you can either add a border or go sans, rotate an image,  or cancel out of the navigation screen by using the icons in the app’s top navigation bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’re met with Instagram’s famous filters, including the SF-inspired Valencia, Sutro and Brannan and the one I always end up using, X-Pro. Because we are all idiosyncratic little snowflakes, everyone has their unique preferences.

Once you decide on the exact specs of the photo you’re going to post, you click on the green check mark provided, and the app’s flow allows you to input a description and a Twitter-like hashtag for search, geotag the photo, and share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare or via email. In addition to sharing, clicking ‘Done’ will post the item to your Instagram feed, where it will be enjoyed by your followers if you have them. You can see the photo in addition to photos from the people who you follow by clicking on the Home icon.

Clicking on the Star icon will bring you to the Instagram Popular page. I’ve never actually figured out how to get a photo to ‘Popular’ on Instagram, so if you do it please let me know. I think the trick is to have a lot of followers (Isn’t that always the trick!?) — And I’m still not convinced mere mortals can do it.

Aside from the Popular page, the main Instagram navigation screen allows you to view ‘News’ by selecting the ‘Heart Comment’ icon and your profile by selecting what looks like an ‘Index Card’ icon on the far right. This is where you can find people to follow, view all your photos in either grid or chronological list view, and edit your profile.

For Everyone

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom tells me that the Instagram iOS app has now hit 30 million users after about a year and a half on the market, and with Android at 500 million activations (for comparison, Apple is at something around 180 million iPhones sold, total) the startup has a real chance of hitting 100 million users across both devices soon enough to matter.

Facebook took about four years to reach its first 100 million; The idea of Instagram becoming the world’s first formidable, mobile-only social network is extremely compelling.

Systrom tells me that a major concern of his is consistency across both platforms, and that the same 13 people who built the iOS app also built Android, which can run on any camera phone with Android 2.2 or above with support for OpenGL ES 2 (a technology needed to power the Instagram filters).

“The Android app offers an extremely familiar Instagram experience when compared to the iOS app,” Systrom writes, “You’ll find all the same exact filters and community as our iOS version.” iOS features like Tilt/Shift, Flickr integration and inline posting didn’t make the cut this time but will hit future versions. The app is also available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

So what took them so long? Well, the whole “Lean Startup” mentality may have had something to do with it. “Launching on a single platform allowed us to focus on the product and the user experience,” Systrom says. “It’s given us the ability to stay small and nimble, and we’ve been able to respond quickly to user feedback.”

The company is rumored to be raising $40 million at $500 million from the usual suspects of top-tier VC firms. Perhaps we’ll see more expansion in the future? Systrom wouldn’t comment on what platform it would launch on next, and ignored my questions about an iPad app or website.

I’m guessing the team will have their hands full with scaling Android. An early sign up page thrown up a week ago has accumulated over 430k people on its waiting list! And while Android already has apps that essentially have Instagram’s functionality, Systrom isn’t thrown by the competition, “There are plenty of clones on iOS as well – but at the end of the day it’s the community people want to be part of. We’re excited to see the community grow with even more perspectives all around the world.”

-(via TechCrunch)

Angry Birds Space gets on the App Store.


Here’s a brief description of the game:

“…. After a giant claw kidnaps their eggs, the Angry Birds chase it into a wormhole and find themselves floating in a strange new galaxy – surrounded by space pigs! Luckily the Angry Birds have super powers of their own…

Angry Birds Space features 60 interstellar levels on planets and in zero gravity, resulting in spectacular gameplay ranging from slow-motion puzzles to Lightspeed destruction. With regular free updates, new in-app purchases, brand new birds, brand new superpowers, and a whole galaxy to explore, the sky is no longer the limit! ”

It includes the following features:

  • 60 interstellar levels!
  • Regular free updates!
  • Brand new birds!
  • Brand new superpowers!
  • Zero-gravity space adventures!
  • Trick shots using planets’ gravity!
  • New in-app purchases!
  • Hidden bonus levels!
  • Beautifully detailed backgrounds!

Angry Birds Space is available in the App Store for $0.99 for iPhone and iPod touch users (App Store link), $2.99 for iPad (App Store link) and for $4.99 in the Mac App Store (Mac App Store link)

! Trailer !

! A hands on Video by IGV !

 

Various New Birds which are a part of Angry Birds Space:

1) Ice Bird

2) Lazer Bird

3) Bomber Bird

4) Red Bird

5) Terence

6) Blue Bird’s are back

SmartSync gets New [iPhone] #mwc2012


screen_shot

SmartSync, which has been doing good business on the iPhone app store [itunes link], has released an updated version that is a big improvement on the original app, which has become popular because it makes you sound like some sort of omnipresent god. No, I got that wrong. Let’s try that again. It’s like having a CRM for your friends. When someone calls you, SmartSync displays their latest Facebook statuses or photos against the call. Say they said they were tired. When they call you say “Wow, sorry to hear you’re feeling tired!” even before they’ve said hello. See, suddenly you’re all-knowing.

The app syncs birthday reminders, status updates, profile pictures and check-ins. SmartSync also sync with contacts, even if you aren’t friends on Facebook. If both people calling each other have SmartSync installed, you get their Facebook profile photo and whatever else they’ve recently published.

The startup is now looking to incorporate more social networks such as LinkedIn and other notifications when contacts change. As a result it’s getting high rankings in the iPhone app store as a paid-for app.

Bringing social syncing to your contact books makes sense – suddenly your old contact address books looks a bit flat without this facility. Just don’t say the word Plaxo…

The Facebook iOS app’s built-in contact syncing feature isn’t that great and often can’t distinguish between a name on Facebook and the contact you have in your phone. SmartSync claims it is much better at this, matching contacts using factors beyond just a person’s name and achieving a higher hit rate in syncing.

Founders Ken Vinner and Shlomo Unger have angel backing for the app.

-(via Tech Crunch)

More @ MWC2012 :

Mobile World Congress 2012 [EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE]


About the MWC 2012 :

MWC is redefining “mobile”.  No longer limited only to communications, mobile is now a force transforming our world in an unprecedented way. Mobile connects, entertains, informs and inspires us, ultimately changing how we live and who we are.

Mobile World Congress is the global epicenter of this redefinition as our participants enable, lead and accelerate it. Join it in Redefining Mobile at Mobile World Congress 2012, which will be held 27 February to 1 March at Fira Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain.

 Surf the below for detailed View: