Friday, June 20, 2014

Meet Facebook's Answer to Snapchat

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 12:25 PM

It’s Facebook’s attempt to compete against the successful and popular app known as Snapchat. Both feature sending pictures to friends, only allowing them to see the images for a set amount of time before they disappear forever. However Slingshot requires the user to send a picture of their own to be able to view one sent to them—a reply-to-unlock feature. It seems like a hassle to some, making image messaging more time consuming than just replying with a quick pic of the couch.

However, Facebook aims to make Slingshot more of a status update app rather than a messaging app. It caters to users who prefer sharing casual videos and pictures, with a handy select all function—something Snapchat users have been waiting for.

Still, Snapchat users can choose what friends they include on their contacts list, while Slingshot intrusively adds all of your friends, from phone or Facebook—the app experience is less private and more akin to a public spectacle. You can’t pick and choose which friends you add, since they’re all included.

Facebook doesn’t seem to be solidifying people’s trust in their privacy, not with their new tracking of likes or how Slingshot doesn’t notify you when a friend takes a screenshot of your picture. But it seems that the aim of the app is to be a visual display of a status update, lacking the immediacy of Snapchat’s messaging tone.

Most mobile phone users seem to forget about Instagram’s similar feature called Direct. The pictures you send don’t disappear forever, but only the people you choose can see them and the filters are better. As the digital world transitions from instant messaging to picture messaging, these apps have a way to go before one of them contains the feature and privacy settings app consumers crave. 
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

iPhone Holiday Commercial Shows Tech Giant's Heart

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Apple has made a fortune selling high tech in the sleekest of packages, and its torchbearer is the iPhone. These iconic trinkets bridged the gap between cellular phones and computers, and for years, did it in two colors—stylish black or creamy white—with customizable application selections. Since their debut in 2007, they've gone from being pocket phones to pocket Shmoos, becoming whatever consumers want them to be.

Apple (and the iPhone in particular) has branded itself as cool, hip and clean, and its advertising campaigns have diligently avoided pathos. Until now. In a 90-second Apple Christmas ad titled "Misunderstood," which debuted Dec. 16, audiences got a taste of how warm the tech giant would like to be perceived.

In it, an iPhone-wielding teenager—let's call him "Timmy" for the sake of convenience—is shown alone, following his friends and family around a snowy Christmas-scape looking forlorn, unwanted and thoroughly engrossed with his iPhone while everyone else builds snowmen, tromps through pristine powder and generally has a good time.

Finally, on Christmas Day, Timmy's family gathers in the living room before a glittering Christmas tree. At the peak of the morning's holiday cheer, Timmy steps up to the TV and switches it on. One pajama-clad cousin standing by the tree throws up his hands, dismayed. 

For a split second, bewilderment with Timmy's behavior is writ large on the faces of his family members until the words "A Harris Family Holiday" appear written in snow on the screen: Timmy has been filming and editing a holiday masterpiece the whole time.

Timmy's Christmas film chronicles his family's adventures in the snow, from the giving of presents and hugging babies to sled rides and icy eyelashes. The family, of course, is thrilled. Cousins clap and a red-faced grandma brushes a tear from her eye. 

It doesn't seem to matter that Timmy hasn't been participating in family activities, that he has been sullen and forlorn looking—"Misunderstood," according to the ad's title—probably for days. Amends have been made through the video, and, by extension, the iPhone, which midwifed Timmy's latent filmmaking talent. Never mind: All is forgiven. Happy holidays.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New iPhones Get Release Dates

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM


Tech and design giant Apple announced release dates for two new iPhone models at Apple HQ in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 10.

"In the past, when we've launched a new iPhone, we lowered the cost of the old iPhone, making it more accessible to new people. But this year, we're not going to do that," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Instead, Apple is launching a less expensive new model, the iPhone 5C, which comes in a colored plastic enclosure and includes the new iOS7 operating system. The 5C will be available for pre-order Friday, Sept. 13, and fully available Friday, Sept. 20. The 16GB model will cost $99; the 32GB $199.

Apple is also launching the more upscale 5S, which comes with a new 64-bit processor, a motion sensor, 250 hours of standby time and fingerprint identification. The 5S costs $199-$399 and comes in three colors: silver, gold and space gray. It's set for release Friday, Sept. 20.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Your Flashlight App is Tracking You

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM


Thanks to things like smartphones and social networking, privacy issues are a daily concern. And while you may be patting yourself on the back for locking down the new privacy settings on your Facebook account, you might not know that your flashlight app could be tracking your location.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently released a study looking at what information about you the top 100 apps in Google's Android app store collect. According to a story published online at nbcnews.com, more than half of the apps collect personal information.

But it's not just Google Maps that wants to know where you are. Among the "worst offenders" of data collection is the Brightest Flashlight app because, apparently, it needs to know your location in order to turn on a light.

Other surprising data collectors include:

• Angry Birds

• Backgrounds HD Wallpapers

• Dictionary.com

• Horoscope

• Shazam music

Check out the full list online, as well as why people surveyed about the data collection seem to feel better about it when they know what the app developers are doing with their personal info.

Of course, you could always just adjust the settings on your smartphone and tell the app people to mind their own business.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Falling Into The Digital Black Hole With #de_VICE

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 11:32 AM

In this day and age, social skills are not to be taken for granted. And when I say "social skills" I mean live, person-to-person interaction that requires actual eye contact and communication that happens more than 140 characters at a time and does not involve emotocons.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people falling into the digital black hole. It's not an infrequent occurrence, you find it every time you see people seated at a table—their eyes glazed over and their noses pressed to their smartphone screens—completely ignoring the other people around them. You see it when someone is so busy mucking around on their phone as they walk down the street that they keep nearly walking into people. It happens every time someone interrupts a conversation because they want to check out something on Twitter. It's seen whenever someone is so busy yapping away as they wait in line or even stand at a counter that complete strangers know way, way too much about their love lives and they can't even do what they came in for. Basically they are all examples of people letting everyone else know they are not as important or valued as whatever is happening on their glowing screens.

Apparently, I'm not alone on my soapbox.

Atlanta-based photographer Zack Arias has come up with his #de_VICE series—a collection of images illustrating our culture's obsession with everything digital. Check out a selection of the series at CNN.com.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bored at Work? Read the FBI File on Steve Jobs

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Celebrated biographer Walter Isaacson recently struck publishing gold with his book Steve Jobs. But if you'd prefer to skip lauded, prosaic passages in favor of "the real story," delivered in dry report form, you're in luck.

The FBI file on Steve Jobs—compiled when he was under consideration for a job in the George H.W. Bush administration—has just hit the Web. Apparently, the same guy who reputedly ran his business almost like a cult, bullied employees into satisfying his perfectionism, and whose overseas factories are now under fire for harsh working conditions, also had questions raised about his character in the report.


No, really, it's true. The report highlights Jobs' refusal to take responsibility for his child and his perceived dishonesty by associates. And here we thought he was just the man who brought back black turtlenecks.

This is sure to satisfy the world-class shit-talkers at Gawker, who just love harping on how much of a butthole Jobs was. Oh look ... there it is.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Anthropologist: We Are All Cyborgs Now

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM

At Boise Weekly, and in newsrooms across the world, journalists are using iPhones in place of everything from traditional cameras to the standard-issue, spiral-bound reporter's notebook more and more.

And we aren't alone. Smart phones and their effects are everywhere. And while some might dismiss them as "really fancy toys," anthropologist Amber Case has a slightly more interesting take. She says that the smart phone's ability to connect and enhance our mental selves digitally has made us all cyborgs.

She made her case in a Ted Talk in 2011. Check it out below.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Apple App Elves in Christmas Rush

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 7:55 AM

There are only four shopping days until Christmas (including today), but if you develop Apple apps, you only have two more days until the holiday cutoff.

When millions of people unwrap new iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches on Christmas morning, they'll also launch the biggest day of the year for app sales—a bonanza for developers of games and other applications. But more than a few Apple app makers are a bit nervous today because the company stops accepting app submissions and updating its store for eight consecutive days beginning Thursday, Dec. 22.

According to The New York Times, developers pull all-nighters the week before Christmas so they can get their work to Apple on time.

"In terms of money, it can be a really big deal," Marc Edwards, lead designer at Bjango told the Times. "There's a mad scramble."

Part-time Las Vegas app developer Bryan Duke is an example of what Christmas means those in the industry. One of his apps, an air hockey game that costs 99 cents, usually averages about 300 downloads per day. But on Christmas Day last year, there were 1,834 downloads.

The stakes are higher than ever this Christmas because AT&T is no longer the only carrier in the United States selling the iPhone, so there are more potential customers.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BW Launches News iPhone App

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 4:20 PM


The cat's outta the bag.

For the last month, we've been test-driving our latest iPhone app on the downlow and now it's time to let you in on the secret.

BW's iPhone app is free to iPhone users. With it, readers have access to all of Boise Weekly’s online content, including feature and news stories, as well as blog content updated daily. The app also offers extensive entertainment coverage, including previews of upcoming concerts, movie listings, restaurant reviews and suggestions, plus when and where to find everything users want to do. Boise Weekly’s events database can be accessed from the app either chronologically or based on geo-location technology. Users also have access to movie times, nearby restaurants and a real-time map of all the events happening near them.

In other words, it's BW wrapped up in an app.

This is our second iPhone app. In 2009, Boise Weekly launched Cocktail Compass, a location-based happy hour finder for the drinker in search of a bar with a deal right now and right close.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Consumer Reports: Thumbs Down on Verizon iPhone4

Posted By on Sun, Feb 27, 2011 at 1:47 AM

In the wake of a momentous launch of Verizon's iPhone4, Consumer Reports is raining on Apple's parade. CR announced on its blog that it can't recommend the Verizon iPhone4 because it basically has the same problems found on AT&T's iPhone4: signal issues.

"When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side—an easy thing especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone4," wrote Consumer Reports. CR tested three iPhone4s, each of which was purchased at three separate retailers.

Here's the best part: Consumer Reports recommends covering the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape.

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