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Month: March 2013

Ad Watch: HTC’s BlinkFeed Gets Its Own Spot

Ad Watch: HTC’s BlinkFeed Gets Its Own Spot

blinkfeedAfro

 

A few months ago a friend and I were discussing HTC’s One X failure over a couple of pints and my main point was that their marketing was simply not up to scratch. I hedged a bet and said that if they didn’t make ads that actually mean something the company was going to fade into irrelevance in the blink of an eye.

HTC knew this, and I present to you the first commercial spot for the HTC One showcasing one of its greatest differentiators: BlinkFeed. It’s your standard homescreen showing a Flipboard-esque feed of content from Facebook, Twitter, and other approved sources. It’s a big deal for HTC. With their devices delayed because of suppliers thinking the company’s no longer top-tier HTC needs to keep that fire burning in people’s hearts.

I like what I’m seeing. The commercial is simple but relevant to the European market HTC is targeting at the moment. A woman sits in am empty train carriage and as she swipes through her BlinkFeed people from that feed itself appear next to her, reading out the headlines. Maybe not the original, but it gets people interested. That’s exactly what HTC needs right now, especially with Sony’s Xperia Z having beaten them to market by a couple of months and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 looming over them.

If HTC can keep it up, they’re in for a good year. If not, I don’t think they have many chances left. HTC: the ball is in your court.

Gamification of Fitness: My Expectation

Gamification of Fitness: My Expectation

Gamification of Fitness taken a LITTLE too far. [28 Days Later]

Rather embarrassingly I’ve become quite the couch potato lately. All work no play makes Emm a fat boy. Hell, give me a month and I’ll have stretched across two time zones. But what can I do?

Work out, I guess. A friend’s been telling me to hit the gym for ages but I’d rather start somewhere simpler, somewhere easier. What’s better than going for a run? I’d done this in summer and used Endomondo to track my runs, the app worked great and all, but it gets a little boring. So another friend introduced me to “Zombies, run!” Gamification of fitness seems to be all the rage these days. It’s about time I get in on the action.

My expectations aren’t particularly high, but not for lack of a better app. While the UI is a little dated (Android 2.3 at best) the voice acting seems good, the concept is definitely interesting and the service seems flexible enough – I don’t have to ACTUALLY run. So there’s that.

I’m off for my trip with “Zombies, run!” later today, so wish me luck! I’ve attached a fitting scene from Zombieland below. Rule #1: Cardio.

And if you want to try it out for yourself, get “Zombies, Run!” here for Android and here for iOS, while click here for the app’s website.

Andy Rubin Steps Down As Android Chief, Chrome Chief To Replace Him

Andy Rubin Steps Down As Android Chief, Chrome Chief To Replace Him

Andy Rubin

I’ve got to admit that I was surprised by this news. The platform’s going so well! So many good things are happening! But Andy Rubin has chosen this particular moment in Android’s story to end his chapter and let Sundar Pichai, Chrome’s head, start his own.

In a blog post explaining Rubin’s departure CEO Larry Page praised the work he had done and said that he wasn’t leaving the company. Page specifically said:

Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google. Andy, more moonshots please!

Fine words, with plenty of hidden meaning. The entire post points towards Chrome and Android merging to become one which means that Google aims to bring the mobile OS to the laptop and PC market and its Chromebook. I’m sure that really expensive Chromebook Pixel makes a little more sense now, huh? Speculation and Rubin’s letter to the Android partners after the break.

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Google Now coming to iOS?

Google Now coming to iOS?

If a clip uncovered by Engadget is any indication, it certainly seems so. A tipster sent the site a link to YouTube video that had a low res version of a Google Now promo for iOS.

The video appears to be genuine and features convincing Google visual and animations as well as a voice actress that’s pretty damn close to that of the woman who voiced Google’s first Now promo back in July. However it’s important to remember that there are design studios out there who have made convincing Google promos for fictional products or re-made existing commercials with a twist.

If it turns out to be true then Google is giving iOS users one of the greatest platform differentiators it’s got but it wouldn’t be the first time the company’s shown it’s greatest competitor some love. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Source: Engadget

Newsbook, Malta’s First News App on Android and iOS

Newsbook, Malta’s First News App on Android and iOS

newsbook

The IT industry is, at the moment, one of the fast growing economic sectors our country has ever seen and while most companies have focused their efforts on enterprise services a few have given the consumer markets a try. Vioside is one such developer and I proudly present Newsbook, the first app of its kind developed for the Maltese Islands by Maltese developers.

The premise is simple: aggregate news from Newsbook, a Maltese news outlet, and present that content in an appealing and easy to read format that works on every phone I’ve got in the house. There are 4 categories present so far, these being “Lokali”, “Internazzjonali”, “Madwar Il-Hajja”, and “Teknologija”. Translated, these are Local, International, Lifestyle, and Technology.

Screenshot_2013-03-12-23-03-37

Selecting a category brings up the most recent article that you can scroll through vertically then swipe from the right to get to the next post. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to view all articles in that category or to mark articles as read, but that’s a minor inconvenience. At the bottom of every article are buttons to view the video attached to the article, share it to any Android application, listen to the article’s sound, or view the original article in your phone’s browser on www.newsbook.com.mt.

All in all it’s a great application with great potential to grow and I can’t wait to see more developers put their content out there. Click through the gallery below! Also get it on Google play from here.

Microsoft Surface RT Available At Scan Malta

Microsoft Surface RT Available At Scan Malta

Surface RT

Living up to their claim of offering the largest selection of tablets on the island, Scan has now added the Surface RT to their line up.

The Surface RT is Microsoft’s flagship Windows RT flagship running a watered down version of Windows 8 that is limited to running Metro apps only and having an extremely limited Desktop mode – used only for Office. With a Terra 3 chip inside and an HD screen the Surface RT can compete with most of the Android flagship tablets on sake at the moment with the exception of the ultra high-res Nexus 10.

Prices are as follows:

  • Screen Protector for Microsoft Surface 10.6″ – €4.95
  • Black Flip Case/Stand for Microsoft Surface RT – €27.95
  • Microsoft Surface 10.6″ 32GB Windows RT Black WiFi Tablet – €595.00
  • Microsoft Surface 10.6″ 32GB Windows RT WiFi Tablet w/Touch Keyboard – €675.00
  • Microsoft Surface 10.6″ 64GB Windows RT Black WiFi Tablet – €675.00

  • Microsoft Surface 10.6″ 64GB Windows RT WiFi Tablet w/Touch Keyboard – €755.00

Check out the Surface RT page at Scan.com.mt here.

Facebook Redesigns Your News Feed

Facebook Redesigns Your News Feed

Facebook Across Platforms

Allow me to present to you your new Facebook News Feed: bigger pictures, bigger stories. With competitors moving towards “a more beautiful web*” Facebook’s design decisions make sense and the company’s borrowed heavily from it’s mobile apps to create a unified experience across all platforms.

Facebook: Bigger Photos

Photos and albums are brought up front with posts displaying bigger, higher resolution images while articles have grown to include a greater summary of the content as well as including the publication’s logo. If more than one of your friends has shared the same article or link their profile icons will appear besides the post and hovering over these will show you what each friend said about the content posted.

Facebook: Sharing Content

The News Feed’s also been split into different feeds to keep you from drowning in a deluge of spam, annoying links, cat photos, and sloths. Categories are as follows:

  • All Friends
  • Photos
  • Music
  • Following

I’m curious to see how all this will filter down to Facebook’s mobile apps. While the design may be the same, the UX is not, and the need for a cleaner and categorised news feed is far greater on the phone.

So the last question remaining is, when will I get it? From Facebook’s blog post on the matter:

We’ll be rolling out the new design slowly over the coming weeks on web and mobile. If you’d like to get it early, visit www.facebook.com/newsfeed and add yourself to the waiting list. These design updates will be available on your iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks and to Android soon after.

The official post on Facebook’s blog can be found here.

* Quoting Microsoft in an Internet Explorer commercial.

HTC One Wallpapers: Get them while they’re hot!

HTC One Wallpapers: Get them while they’re hot!

At an HTC event in Italy XDA user loan92 managed to pull the system wallpapers from an HTC One display unit and put them up for the rest of the world to see via a dropbox link. His link has been shut because of high traffic, so I extracted them from the zip and put them into this gallery here. If you want to download all the wallpapers in one fell swoop, here’s my dropbox link. Note that they are all in full 1080p resolution.

Enjoy, and if you haven’t used Dropbox before and want to get started, use my referral here: Join Dropbox!