Archive for the Computers Category

Facebook Arrives On Google Glass Thanks To Unofficial Photo Sharing App

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As the days go by and developers get their hands on Glass, the basic apps that we need to survive in the wild and share our photos are popping up. Today, Glass To Facebook is available for those who want to post the moments captured with Glass to the social network. It’s the first third-party app that allows you

The setup is similar to that of other third-party apps like GlassTweet, but requires you to give Facebook permissions to post to your timeline. It only takes a few seconds to get going:

 

 

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After you’ve turned on the Glass To Facebook sharing contact within MyGlass and approve the permissions on Facebook, you’re ready to start posting:

fbconnectJust take a photo and choose the Glass To Facebook option:

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The nice thing about the app is that it creates a photo album for you that will start piling up your Glass-taken photos:

Your photo shows up like any other one would in your friends’ News Feed, too. This means that all of those annoying baby pictures that you see on the daily will now come from the vantage point of the parent’s face. Exciting, I know. On a serious note, it’s nice to see photos from Glass being brought to networks other than Google+, which was the only out of the box option.

While we haven’t heard anything recently about an official Facebook Glass app, we’ve heard that there’s a team of four working on something. What could Facebook look like for Glass? We know that there won’t be ads, since Google isn’t allowing them on the Glass platform as of right now. Aside from that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Poke pop up on the device.

Facebook Must Make Home A Layer Atop Your Widgets And Homescreen, Not A Replacement

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“Where did my Android go?” is the common refrain of Facebook Home user reviews. We want the widgets and old homescreen we’ve meticulously curated. That’s why Facebook needs to preserve and offer quick access to the phone we’re used to if it’s going to make Home a hit. Facebook’s reading the reviews too, so bet on the early Home updates to make it more of a bonus than a trade-off.

Facebook proclaims “Home is a completely new experience that lets you see the world through people, not apps.” But that completely new experience disrespects the work we’ve done to personalize our phones — arranging apps and putting them into folders, choosing what goes in the coveted first screen spots, and building widgets of real-time information we care about. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice so much to get Home’s added benefits.

Luckily, Facebook has committed to releasing monthly updates for Home, with the first one expected on May 12th. There are plenty of “nice” features it could add, but before Facebook decorates Home, it needs to get the foundation cemented.

Opening The Doors

I spent some time poring through hundreds of Home reviews to get a sense of the public’s perspective. Journalists and techies, including me, focused on features like Cover Feed and Chat Heads. The somewhat complicated install process didn’t faze them much. But the average Joe got quite confused when he downloaded Home only to find his familiar Android experience had been evicted.

home-widgetsPlenty of people like it, and say they get used to it after a while. But many of the 1-star reviews dragging down Home read like this [sic]:

  • “Ugh! Not an intuitive app. Made my phone so frustratingly complicated to use that I uninstalled after just four or five hours. Unless major changes are made including an easy way to get to my home screen I will not reinstall.” – Victoria Wiley
  • “It literally took over my phone. Its almost as if it a whole new OS and not user friendly.” – joe smith
  • “Where are my widgets, not impressed” – David Marner
  • “It gets rid of everything u have and have to reset it” –J Erickson

Judging from these reviews and hundreds more I read, the first change Home needs is to do a better job of walking us through the transformation our phones are undergoing. Many people won’t be sure they’re supposed to select Home when asked which app to “Complete Action Using”. That should be explained up front. Then once Home is fully installed, Facebook should do a deeper tour not only of its own features, but of explaining what happened to the other parts of our phone and how to get back to them.

Preserving Personalization

Home has no widgets and no app folders, and users hate that. It won’t stay that way for long, though. Facebook Director Of Product Adam Mosseri told me when Home debuted that “There’s a lot of stuff we wanted to do in the launcher like folders and widgets. But that’s the beauty of the update cycle. We’re already working on stuff that will come out [in later versions of Home.]“‘

facebook-phone-screenSo is Facebook going to build its own foldering and widget-building system? Perhaps, but that doesn’t actually solve the problem prevalent in Home’s negative reviews. Users don’t want to do redundant work to re-personalize their phone.

That’s why I suspect Facebook will look for a way to integrate our existing folders and widgets within Home. This is a pretty fundamental shift for Home from a replacement launcher to a layer that rides on top of what we’ve already done to our phones. Ideally we’d be able to temporarily push Home aside to reveal our old homescreen and all our customization. Importing the folders and widgets we’ve already made into Home’s own app drawer would work, too.

Right now from Cover Feed you can swipe left for Facebook Messenger, right for the last app you used, and up to open your app favorites screen. I’d imagine Facebook would either add a down swipe to surface our former homescreens lying in wait underneath, or swap in this action for the app favorites up swipe.

With these fixes made, Facebook would get most of the prominence and immersive experience it wants from Home without forcing us to ditch our old system. That erases a huge barrier to installing and enjoying its “apperating system” and could help it grow beyond the 500,000 to 1,000,000 downloads it currently has. There’s a lot of people out there who want people to come before apps, just not instead of them.

BitTorrent Steps Up Monetization Efforts By Taking Its (Potentially Paywalled) Content Bundles Into Alpha

 

BitTorrent Bundle LogoBitTorrent is taking a new step today in its efforts to help creators make money (and make money itself) — it’s releasing a new content packaging format called the BitTorrent Bundle in alpha mode.

The company has already been working with different creators to launch promotional bundles. For example, author Tim Ferriss packaged chapters of his book with other supplementary media material as a way to promote sales of his newest work, while musicians like DJ Shadow have used BitTorrent to promote new tracks and albums. However, spokesperson Christian Averill told me that today’s announcement signals the company’s intention to move beyond one-off experiments and actually “productize” these efforts.

Averill also said that today is the first time BitTorrent has actually “gated” one of these bundles. Specifically, it’s partnering with music label Ultra to promote the behind-the-scenes documentary of Kaskade’s 2012 Freaks of Nature tour. Users can access half the content (a remix and a tour trailer) for free, but to get the rest (a digital tour booklet and unreleased footage of Kaskade’s Staples Center show), they need to enter their email address. In his blog post announcing the bundle, BitTorrent’s vice president of marketing Matt Mason described the package as a “functional record store.”

“This is a completely new way to look at monetizing content,” Mason said. “Instead of putting the content in the store, what if you put the store in the content? What if the interaction happened in the unit of content in itself?”

Mason said that the first bundle focuses on collecting email addresses, because for most musicians, email is “the most important way to connect with fans.” At the same time, he said BitTorrent will be experimenting with other ways to structure the bundle, including ones where users actually pay money to. (When he spoke to us last fall, Mason said that the music business has become more relationship-based, meaning that musicians usually have to build a relationship with their fans before they can start asking them to pay.)

The ultimate goal is to release a publishing tool that will allow any artist to create their own bundles, and to structure those bundles however they like — that’s probably coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

“BitTorrent users are clearly fans,” Mason added. “It’s now up to us to build the right sort of publishing tools so that that relationship between artists and fans can just be completely optimized

Microsoft Says It Has Sold More Than 100M Windows 8 Licenses, 250M App Downloads In Last 6 Months, Blue Coming “Later This Year”

By most accounts, Windows 8 isn’t all that popular, but according to Microsoft’s latest numbers, the company has now sold more than 100 million copies of the latest version of its desktop operating system. In January, the last time Microsoft provided updated numbers for Windows 8, the company said that it had passed the 60 million mark. Windows 8 users are also getting used to using the Windows Store, it seems, as the total number of downloads for the first six months has now passed 250 million.

The number of apps in the store, Microsoft’s CFO and CMO Tami Reller said in a canned interview with Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc today, has increased 6x since launch and 90% of the apps are downloaded at least once every month. Given that the Store didn’t have all that many apps in it when Windows 8 launched, a 6x increase doesn’t sound all that big, but Reller argues that this means Windows 8 has “already passed what iOS had in store, in its first year of app development.” Earlier today, Microsoft also said that SkyDrive now has more than 250 million active customers.

Windows Blue: Coming “Later This Year”

While Microsoft has long acknowledged that the next version of Windows has the codename “Windows Blue” and various leaks have already revealed many of its features, the company has never announced a roadmap for Blue. In today’s “interview,” Keller said that Blue will be available “later this year, building on the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of tablets and PCs.” Blue she said, “will deliver the latest new innovations across an increasingly broad array of form factors of all sizes, display, battery life and performance, while creating new opportunities for our ecosystem.” Blue, she also noted, is an opportunity for Microsoft to respond to feedback from its customers (who all seem to be clamoring for the return of the Start menu).

With Microsoft Build at the end of June, chances are we will hear quite a bit more about Blue at that time, so it’s probably a fair guess that “later this year” refers to the late summer.

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