Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Manage Your Social Media Life on Your Mobile Phone

Warning: Do not read this post if you want to keep your ‘real life’ friends.

Long gone are the days where you need a laptop of desktop to mange your social networks. In fact, thanks to the developments in smart phones, you can set up, manage and use each of your social profiles on the move.

That’s right, we’re going to show you how you can ditch the heavy equipment for good and go 100% mobile!

Let’s begin by assuming you are aware of and are using many mobile versions of the most popular social networking sites. Just in case, let’s recap the big ones:

Facebook for Android, Twitter mobile, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Tumblr.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

The ‘supporting’ cast

Facebook Messenger - If you want to take your Facebook chat function with you, then this is the app for you. It tells you who’s online and allows you to carry out instant chats from the palm of your hand. Nice eh?
TwitPlus – addon for Twitter - This should probably be called ‘Twitter on Steroids’. This adds things like ‘odd style retweet’ and other functionality not available in the native Twitter mobile app.
All-in-one solutions
Of course, if you don’t want to have a million separate apps you can download one of the many cross-platform services. The best of these include: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Seesmic, UberSocial (although this last one is more a Twitter-specific app).

Time to show off

As readers of The Next Web, we expect you to be familiar with most of these apps. Now it’s time to show you some stuff that’ll really impress your friends. The hottest social apps and games doing the rounds at the moment include:

Draw Something (collaborative drawing app), Words with Friends (like scrabble), Hooked (a game recommendation app), Fancy (a Pinterest style curation app), and Path (the semi-private social network).
Pinterest hasn’t released an official app yet, but you can always download Pin’d.
We haven’t really talked much about video yet, and there’s more to life than just YouTube mobile. The best of the bunch is an app called SocialCam from which allows easy video sharing with your friends.
Useful utilities
If you want to manage your online life from your mobile, there are some great socially-inspired apps to choose from too, including:

Evernote (web clipping and note taking app), (collaborative to-do list) and DropBox.

That should ensure you never miss a beat!

Additional resources:
Zeebox launches in Google Play
Spotify unveils its new Android app
Yuri Arcurs via shutterstock

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- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Facebook adds names to Timeline Friend photos, makes it easier to find new friends

Facebook adds names to Timeline Friend photos, makes it easier to find new friends

5886225374 c57c6c1966 z 520x245 Facebook adds names to Timeline Friend photos, makes it easier to find new friends

Facebook has made another minor change to users' Timeline profiles, incorporating a new design for Friend listings that include both a person's name and profile photo, making it easier for other users to make new connections via their existing connections.

The update appears to have rolled out over the past 24 hours, ensuring that when a user visits their friend's Facebook profile, the Friends box immediately draws the their attention:

Screen Shot 2012 04 28 at 10.21.21 Facebook adds names to Timeline Friend photos, makes it easier to find new friends

Before, friends were listed but a user had to mouseover the person's image to view their name on the resulting popup.

You could argue that Facebook's new design has elements of Microsoft's Windows Phone/Metro interface, a layout that is both simple but effective at encouraging users to click through to other people's profiles and expand connections.

Facebook recently increased the size of Timeline profile images, just days after Google updated Google+ profiles to sport a larger photo. It appears that Facebook has been working to make the most of images on the social network, helping with the identification of its users and driving interaction between them.

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Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

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Screen Shot 2012 04 27 at 13.28.54 520x245 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

As photo-sharing apps start to hit the mainstream — Facebook's $1 billion Instagram acquisition perhaps the most notable — app developers, startups and entrepreneurs are increasingly forced to find new ways of tapping into the booming photo app market.

Staying true to its photo roots, Gifture is a new free app that bridges the gap between the static photo and a video, animating your photos to create really impressive shareable images that can be shared with your friends inside the Gifture network but also to Twitter and Facebook for a wider reach.

Animated GIF apps aren't new, in fact they are seeing a bit of a boom at the moment. We've reviewed Cinemagram in the past, which is able to animate frames from videos with amazing results, but Gifture not only animates your photos, but also enables you to add your own images and do it using one of the most aesthetically pleasing apps we've had the pleasure of using.

Gifture's creator James McDonald told The Next Web that the seed of an idea for Gifture came around June 2011 when he happened to stumble upon

He notes:

I was in awe. The GIFs on that website are absolutely stunning. I spoke with Devin (the developer) and discussed about possibly making an iPhone/iPod app and he was all ears. We thought we could make an app where we could have the Instagram-like base, but using GIFs instead of still photos (although Gifture does support stills as well).

The idea was fully realised in November, when development started on the app. When you look at it, Gifture's feed and menus resemble those of more popular apps like Instagram, but McDonald wanted to build an app that he was proud to use:

We were inspired by the basic functions of Instagram, including its feed. However we wanted to build a product that we wanted to use, something that we thought could be fun and easy to operate.

Instagram is a game changer and brings out the inner photographer in everyone, in my opinion. However, we felt that with GIFs you can tell a better story over still images. They can also be absolutely hilarious, so we're all for users to keep that trend going!

At the time of writing, this is one of the most popular posts on Gifture; an animated GIF of a user dancing outside the Apple Store in Paris:

185435621 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

Upon downloading the app, you will be welcomed with a sign-up screen, displaying the most popular posts on Gifture. From here, you have the option to sign up to the service using either your Twitter or Facebook accounts, signing-up for and logging into the service in a matter of seconds.

IMG 2386 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs    IMG 2389 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

Similar to Instagram, Gifture offers a feed of photos, which will populate GIFs created by friends you add from within the app. The popular tab takes you back to the buzzworthy images, whilst the Activity tab shows you new follows, likes, comments and mentions of you and your friends.

When it comes to using the app, it couldn't be simpler. Hitting the photo button will load the photo app, overlaying a small grid which will show how images will be cropped to fit the 500 x 500 pixel GIF.

IMG 2387 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs   IMG 2393 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

Selecting the small 'a' icon on the photo screen will switch to automatic mode. This will allow you to take ten consecutive shots, making a mini video, resulting in images like the Apple Store photo above.

Once you have captured your scene, Gifture provides filters — including Black & White, Sepia, Pop, False Color, Monochrome, Vibrance, or Invert — and also provides customized playback rates for each animated photo series. This means that if you want a fast GIF or a slower animation, you have complete control at all times.

You also have the option of stitching photos you have already taken together.

IMG 2392 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs   IMG 2388 520x780 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

Before submission, you can share images to your Gifture stream but also Twitter and Facebook as a GIF. An additional context menu allows the sharing of a link to each photo in an iMessage, SMS and email.

Screen Shot 2012 04 27 at 13.22.16 520x270 Gifture: The stunning iOS app that turns your photos into awesome animated GIFs

The app, the website and the resulting images are all stunning, bringing together a great user experience and what its creators hope will be the start of a thriving social network.

We asked McDonald if he had any plans to monetize the service, to which he replied that it wasn't something the duo had given much thought, adding: "If users take a liking to the app we have a lot of cool stuff planned and hopefully we'll never have to go down that road."

Gifture is a free to download and is available on iPhone 3GS, 4 & 4S or iPod touch.

➤ Gifture


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

iOS developers plan an alternative to WWDC after sell out

iOS developers plan an alternative to WWDC after sell out

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference is scheduled to take place in San Francisco from June 11th to June 15th. Tickets for the event sold out in less than two hours, leaving many West Coast developers in the dark, and the Cupertino-based company is enforcing restrictions this year that prevent tickets from being transferred. For developers who aren't interested in legally changing their name to get past Apple's restrictions, there is an alternative — Indie Developer Labs. "Indie Developer Labs is an open area where developers are provided with space to work, free Wi-Fi, and an open environment to connect with other developers. Our mission is to help foster the collaborative spirit of the Apple developer community," the organizers said, adding that a hackathon event is being planned as well. The event is being organized by Kyle Kinkade, Craig Fox and Nate True, who are looking to "help the developer community have a place to collaborate during WWDC." IDL will take place from June 12th to June 15th in San Francisco, just blocks away from where Apple's event will be held at the Moscone Center.


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London Science Museum goes mobile with an augmented reality app

London Science Museum goes mobile with an augmented reality app

Science Museum

Using your Android phone in a museum might not be your first thought, but if you head to the London Science Museum that is exactly what you should do. Featuring well known British TV personality, Top Gear's James May, their Science Stories app takes advantage of augmented reality technology to bring the museum alive. 

May will be your own personal guide to 9 of the best exhibits in the "Making The Modern World" gallery. By pointing the app at relevant points throughout the exhibits, your very own James May will appear on your screen and talk you through what you see in front of you. While not necessarily a completely new idea, it is refreshing to see an institution such as a famous museum moving into the mobile experience. Better still, at £1.99 in the Google Play Store, it's likely cheaper than those awful headphone tour guides you can purchase. Download links can be found after the break, and at the source link you can find a trigger for the app that you can try at home. 

Source: London Science Museum

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Update: It appeared that the Google Drive app had reached 5 million downloads, however this was a reflection of downloads for the Google Docs application. We apologise for any confusion caused.

It’s been an interesting few days around the tech world, with the imminent launch of Google Drive looming large. But now the service is live at so get downloading and let’s take a look:

As we reported only a bit ago Google appears to be aiming the service at companies and Google Apps users rather than positioning it as a consumer-facing service a la Dropbox. In fact, due to the deep integration with Google Docs, Drive appears to be more like a Docs upgrade than a stand-alone service.

Now, here’s what you need to know:

  • Drive gives new users 5 GB free for each user account. Upgrades are 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month
  • Docs storage does not count against your Google Drive quota
  • Desktop apps for Windows and OS X are available today. Android is there too but iOS integration is coming in the next few weeks
  • Drive will allow 30+ file types to open natively in the browser, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and HD video

So there are the facts, now let’s examine what they mean.

First off, I was wrong. I had billed Google Drive as being a direct competitor for Dropbox, but it appears that Google has other ideas in mind. There’s absolutely no doubt that Drive is aimed squarely at enterprise-level storage options such as Box, with the hope that those companies are already using Google Apps services. But even if a company isn’t a Google Apps user, near-limitless storage could be a great way to persuade them toward being one.

If Google had come out of the gates with Android and iOS integration, it could still have held a really good chance at unseating Dropbox for some users. While it would be foolish to think that every Dropbox user would leave the service for Google Drive, there are those who aren’t as tied to their Dropbox accounts and would welcome deeper Google integration.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive blocked in China hours after launch, leaving Baidu and local players to dominate

Google announced its Google Drive cloud storage service yesterday and just hours later the service was blocked in China, just like Dropbox and countless other Western Internet services, leaving the door open for local players to dominate the growing space.

While the blocking of the new Google service is not surprising given Google’s history in China, the move means Baidu — China’s own Google-like Web giant — is well placed to take advantage of Chinese Internet users’ growing interest in cloud services.

Baidu launched its Wangpan cloud storage service in beta in March, unlike Google it restricted the number of initial users by offering just 5,000 invites each day, on a first-come-first-served basis.

On the basics, Wangpan stacks up well against the competition. Google Drive, which is replacing Google Docs, is offering each user 5GB of storage, that’s less than Microsoft’s Skydrive but more than Dropbox. Wangpan offers a whopping basic of 25GB and the chance to further increase that for free via a number of soon-to-be-announced initiatives, Baidu told us last month.

Baidu’s cloud service strategy looks like developing further, with rumors suggesting it will launch its own device powered by ‘Yi’, its fork of Google’s Android operating system. The firm is said to be working with Foxconn to build a Baidu-device, which we presume would integrate with Wangpan, further strengthening the appeal of the device and the storage service.

China has more than 500 million Internet users making it a hugely attractive market for any Web firm. However the block, and Baidu’s own rival service, are likely to lock Google Drive out of the country, where usage will be restricted to Google enthusiasts that overcome the block by using VPNs.

China’s cloud service space is set to grow in a similar way to social media in the country, which is dominated by local firms — like Sina and Tencent — with the door firmly shut for overseas companies.

While Baidu Wangpan is the biggest potential service currently active in China, there are likely to be a number of new services arriving in the market to provide additional options for users, in the same way Instagram, Path and others have been cloned.

Russia is another lucrative market where Google Drive will face fierce competition.

While Google Drive is not blocked in Russia, it will have a tough job rivalling Yandex, which introduced its own cloud storage service earlier this month. Yandex.desk offers a basic 10GB free and syncs with the Yandex product line, which closely mirror Google’s own Web services and is more popular with Russian Web users.

Baidu told us that it will not provide figures about Wangan until it is available for public use. We reached out to Google for comment but are yet to hear back from the company.

Google announces Google Drive, gives 5GB of free cloud storage to all users

Google announces Google Drive, gives 5GB of free cloud storage to all users

Google announces Google Drive, gives 5GB of free cloud storage to all users

Google Drive is big, cheap, and aims to compete with the likes of Dropbox, SkyDrive, and maybe even iCloud

Rumor it and it shall become real — Google Drive, the long awaited, long anticipated cloud storage service from Google is finally here and it's as big and as cheap as we hoped for. Every Google user gets 5GB for free, and you can buy literally tons more — up to 16TB (?!) if you have the cash.

Today, we're introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancĂ© or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.

The focus is on sharing, storing, and searching. Everything. Google Docs is built in so you can start creating stuff. You can install the desktop client on Windows or Mac to get a folder going.

You can get started with 5GB of storage for free—that's enough to store the high-res photos of your trip to the Mt. Everest, scanned copies of your grandparents' love letters or a career's worth of business proposals, and still have space for the novel you're working on. You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.

Google has updated their Android Google Docs app, turning it into an official Google Drive app. They're also "working hard" on an iPhone or iPad version but for now, if you want to access Google Drive, the web is your friend. You can find things by keyword and filter, and Drive will even OCR scanned docs to make your life easier. There's even beta image recognition baked in.

Check out more via the links below, and the watch the video for the overview.

Source:, Google Blog, via Android Central

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Google preparing to launch Google Drive this week with up to 100GB of paid storage?

Google preparing to launch Google Drive this week with up to 100GB of paid storage?

Google Sydney

By now, Google Drive is no longer a secret. It has appeared enough times now to not only say it exists and is in development but to say that it's coming soon. The exact details behind its offerings haven't fully made their way to the internet but some information coming from Reuters may give further insight into what is already known:

Consumers will get 5 Gigabytes of storage for free with Google Drive, while various versions with incrementally more storage capacity, topping out at about 100 Gibabytes, will be available for monthly fees

Google will be looking to target both consumers and businesses with Google Drive so keeping up with competitors such as Dropbox, Box and Evernote will be vital for them. If the information we've heard thus far is accurate, they'll be well positioned to do so by taking advantage of some of their already existing products such as Google Images, Google Docs, Gmail and even Google+. When will it arrive to masses? No one is certain as of yet but it could be as early as this week, with some saying Tuesday will be the day.

Source: Reuters, Image Credit: Life at Google

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Microsoft confirms the Release Preview of Windows 8 will arrive in June


Microsoft has confirmed that it will launch the Release Preview of Windows 8 in the first week of June, according to an announcement made at the Windows 8 Developer Days conference in Japan today, via Engadget.

windows 8



This news comes fresh from the company revealing the Windows 8 catalogues last week, which will come in four different editions: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows Enterprise and Windows RT.

The date touted today isn’t to be confused with the full release of the new system, which remains unconfirmed but is speculated to be coming in October.

Microsoft has given the public flashes of what it can expect from its new operating system as The Developer Preview was made available to download in November 2011, before the Redmond-based giant got the Consumer Preview out and ready at the end of February.

This release is a much bigger deal and it is likely to get Microsoft and Windows enthusiasts very keen on the upcoming release, which they’ll have to patiently hang on for.

For more details on Windows 8, see our ‘Everything you need to know about Windows 8′s Consumer Preview’ article from February.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Skype ban in the UAE could be lifted, as it is ‘purely a licensing matter’

Skype ban in the UAE could be lifted, as it is 'purely a licensing matter'

skype1 520x245 Skype ban in the UAE could be lifted, as it is purely a licensing matter

While Skype remains banned in the UAE, the restriction could easily be lifted following a licensing agreement with the country's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Speaking about the restriction, Mohamed Al Ghanim, the TRA's Director General said, "It is purely a licensing matter."

The statements were made during a 'tweet chat', a first for the TRA head and for a UAE government official, conducted using the official TRA Twitter account.

When asked when the TRA will allow VoIP services, citing Skype as an example, Al Ghanim tweeted the following in response:

@alMUSK @MohamedAlGhanim I hope they come to TRA for licenseit is purely a licensing matter#AskUAETRA

— TRA UAE (@TheUAETRA) April 18, 2012

With a ban in place in the UAE for several years, Skype is also practically inaccessible in other countries in the region such as Morocco, and was also temporarily blocked in Egypt.

Despite the official ban in the UAE, actual measures consist only of restricting access to the Skype website. Gaining access to Skype's VoIP features is a simple as downloading the app using a proxy, as the service itself is not restricted.

While no official statement has ever been made as to why the Skype website has been blocked in the UAE, one of the common assumptions is that it simply comes down to money.

While monitoring or blocking services in the Middle East is more often an attempt to crack down on political activism, as was the case with Bambuser in Syria and Twitter and Facebook in Egypt, in the UAE, it would appear that the Skype ban has more to do with dollars and cents.

In fact, last June, the TRA left the Skype ban up to the country's two operators, Etisalat and du, according to The National, saying, "The licensees [Etisalat and du] will have the right to block [VoIP] traffic," adding, "The TRA does not mandate the licensees to exercise this right."

Etisalat to launch its own VoIP services

UAE based telecom provider Etisalat has also announced that it will be offering access to VoIP phone calls, in an attempt to lure customers away from Skype, and other similar services.

Gulf News points to a launch date in the second quarter of 2012, although the service was discussed as early as 2010, when the initial ban was put in place.

At the time, there was talk of Skype entering an agreement with local telecom providers, and then Skype CEO John Silverman said, "I personally feel it's quite short-sighted of the government. We are always open to discussions. The Middle East is important for Skype. We know they want to use our software, and we want to help them"

A partnership with Skype was never realized, and Etisalat will now be going the route alone, although it is not clear what kind of pricing the UAE-based telecom operator has in mind.

Additionally, pricing will have to be approved by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), a factor which Etisalat has blamed for delays.

With the TRA approving local operator Etisalat's prices, the same restrictions would undoubtedly be applied to Skype, and while the UAE government may welcome a licensing agreement, it is possible that Skype itself won't accept interference in its prices.

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Addidoku review: Addictive number puzzle game for iPhone | iMore

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arrow6 Responses

  1. Matt H.
    April 20, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    I hate to break it to you but 3+2+1+1=7 not 6. You have one too many 1′s in your example.

  2. kim
    April 20, 2012 - 6:44 pm

    Not to mention it's the "sum" of the numbers, not the some.

  3. kim
    April 20, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    I get it. The sum of 3+2+1 is 7 and 6+1 is 7 which is why 32161 can be grouped. This isn't clear from the way this is written at all.

    • Leanna Lofte
      April 20, 2012 - 6:53 pm

      No. I just screwed up my example. There should've been only one 1.

  4. Daniel
    April 20, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Regardless of the 'error,' great find! Been playing for the past hour. I love puzzle games. Any other suggestions??

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