Category Archives: Applications

Skype Acquires Qik for $100 Million

I was shocked to hear this morning that Skype acquired Qik for $100 Million. I’m a huge fan of both, Skype and Qik since they are the game changers of allowing users to host two-way live video calling.

Skype has acquired video streaming service Qik, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Skype CEO Tony Bates confirmed the announcement on the company blog: “I’m happy to announce that we’ve entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Qik,” he wrote.

The news was first leaked by Business Insider Thursday morning. The source who revealed the news claims that the deal cost Skype approximately $100 million.

Qik allows users to host two-way live video calls on a range of smartphones, as well as record and share video via e-mail, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a number of other platforms.

Qik’s userbase catapulted to 5 million users in 2010, up from 600,000 at the beginning of the year, thanks in part to partnerships with major telecom providers like T-Mobile.

“Skype and Qik share a common purpose of enriching communications with video, and the acquisition of Qik will help to accelerate our leadership in video by adding recording, sharing and storing capabilities to our product portfolio,” Bates wrote. “Through this acquisition, we’ll also be able to take advantage of the engineering expertise that is behind Qik’s Smart Streaming technology, which optimizes video transmission over wireless networks,” he added.

Skype and Qik have two important board members in common: Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, who could have helped facilitate the deal.

 

VIA | Mashable

Google Maps Updated to 5.0

It’s the moment we all been waiting for. Android users can finally get their hands on the new Google Maps 5.0 update. The next generation of mobile maps.

Two significant new features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

 

Explore maps in 3D
Until now, Google Maps has always downloaded the map as a set of small, square images that we stitch together to form the map you see. (You’ve probably seen those gray squares getting filled in, block-by-block, as the images load over the network.) Starting today, we’ll use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map on your device as you use it, allowing you to interact with it in new ways:

  • Tilting: Drag down with two fingers to tilt the map. Tilt while zoomed in on one of the 100+ cities around the world with 3D buildings to see a skyline spring to life.
  • Rotating: Twist with two fingers to rotate the map. After tilting to see 3D buildings, rotate around them to gain a new perspective from any direction.
  • Smooth zooming: Slide two fingers together or apart, and see the map and labels continuously scale to any zoom level, stopping when your fingers stop.
  • Compass mode: Center the map on your location, and then tap the compass button in the top right corner. The map will flip into 3D mode and start rotating to match your perspective, while still keeping all the labels upright and readable.

Offline reliability
Google Maps has always been, and continues to be, a fundamentally Internet-connected experience, meaning you always get the freshest map and place data, search and voice search, live traffic conditions, satellite and Street View imagery, and much more. Still, we understand that mobile Internet connections aren’t 100% reliable. So today we’re happy to take the first steps toward greater offline reliability, so you can find your way even if you lose your connection.

In the past, you’ve probably had frustrating moments when you get stranded without a map, whether ducking into the subway, sitting at the back of a restaurant or traveling anywhere with a flaky Internet connection. But dynamically drawing maps requires 100 times less data to get maps across all zoom levels, so now we’re able to proactively cache (or store) large areas on your device based on where you use Maps the most. This way, you can rely on having fast, robust maps available to you where you’re most likely to need them.

Offline rerouting
If you’re one of the more than 10 million people relying on Google Maps Navigation (Beta), our free turn-by-turn GPS navigation feature, losing your Internet connection can be particularly painful. (This happened to me on a recent ski trip to Tahoe, and I was left trying to manually find my way back to my route.) So we’re also introducing offline rerouting. You’ll still need a connection to start a route, but if you miss a turn along the way, we’ll quickly get you back on track, even if you don’t have an Internet connection. We’ll be rolling this feature out gradually over the next few weeks.
These new features are just the first steps in maximizing dynamic map drawing technology to create a faster, more interactive experience where efficiency really matters: mobile devices. For example, we estimate that viewing maps now requires almost 70% less mobile network data overall than before. We can’t wait to take the next steps in making Google Maps faster, more reliable and even more useful no matter where you take it.

textPlus Update For Android

textPlus has recently been updated to Version 2.2 build 9 and has noticable UI improvements.  Those of you who are not familiar with textPlus should know that you can send and receive text messages for free.  That’s right, there’s no catch.  Grab the latest update at the Android Market or follow the QR code below.

Gmail Updates On Froyo And Rooted Android Phones



I have noticed a few new changes in Gmail.  The most noticeable is the reply button being located at the top of an email message and pressing it will open up more reply options.  This is a welcome feature for people who don’t want to scroll all the way to the bottom of a long email just to find the reply button.  Another addition is the ability to mark emails with the Star icon which is located next to the reply button at the top.

Chrome To Phone

Search the Android Market for “Google Chrome to Phone” to get the app.  Firefox users can use the Fox to Phone extension.

VIA|Google

BlindType for Android

Here’s another innovative method of inputting text which may replace existing on-screen keyboards?

Big News Day

There is a lot of news happening recently, so I will just sum up the good ones here.

“This may not be at the top of the list for Android handsets out there (it’s certainly not on ours), but for what it’s worth, it does a good job of showing that LG takes the Android handset seriously, and we imagine that the handsets coming down the pipe from the company will be better.” –Evan Selleck

“Kindle for Android is the perfect companion application for Kindle and Kindle DX owners, and is also a great way for customers to enjoy over 540,000 books in the Kindle Store even if they don’t yet have a Kindle,” said Jay Marine, director, Amazon Kindle. “We think customers are going to love the convenience and simplicity of having instant access to a massive selection of books from Amazon on their Droid, Nexus, Incredible and many more Android devices.”-Amazon

“Android phones are big on cloud computing, so you gotta stay connected.  Smartphone geeks like to toss the word “tethering” around, but what exactly is it and how do you do it?”-Jerry Hildenbrand

“Inkia is going to bring two new Android MIDs to the market, with names inPad 701 and inPad 702. Both of them are Android powered devices.”-Cloned In China

“The HTC Wildfire comes with full Flash support for online video, pinch-to-zoom page resizing, and auto rotation from portrait to landscape.”-Kevin Krause

“Chris Tabor has uncovered an interesting bug with his Droid Incredible, and he isn’t stopping until everyone knows about it. His in depth coverage of this issue is the first I have ever heard of it, and that seems to be the case with most users…”-Kevin Krause

Google Voice For Students / Invite Giveaway

If you are currently a student with an email that ends in .edu, you can cut in front of the line and get an invite straight from Google.

Well I already got invited to the Google Voice awhile ago and gave out an invite, but I still have 2 invites left. I’ve been enjoying the benefits of Google Voice, so why not you as well?  If you want an invite, leave a comment by the end of next week – 5/21 and I will randomly draw 2 winners.  Chances are high for those few of you following this blog than say other more popular blogs!

*Edit* Oh I think I’ll toss in 13 Google Wave invites as well!  I will draw Voice invites first then Wave invites after.  Depending on the number of entrants, you might even get both invites!

Been living under a rock and don’t know what Google Voice is or does? Then you might want to head on over to this link or check out the video below.

VIA|Google Voice Blog

Google Maps Updated – New Bike Directions And More


Google Maps 4.2 for Android has been updated to include bike directions, navigation shortcut, sharing, and more.  Android phones version 1.6+ can grab the update in the Android Market.

*Edit* Apparently, users are having GPS+3G accuracy issues and multitouch not working with the update. You can revert to an older version according to Droid Life.  GPS+wifi should be fine.

VIA|Google Mobile Blog

Square Mobile Payment System Booting Up This Week

Square is making its mobile payment system live this week for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  This may be revolutionary for trading itself because this allows anyone to open up their own business at an affordable cost.  PayPal may have missed an opportunity to create this method of payment system and is only now starting to catch up with an app of their own, however, PayPal does not have a credit card reader that Square does.  Or maybe PayPal wasn’t falling behind after all and foresaw a different future of a payment system that is credit card free?  As of now, cash and credit are the kings of making transactions.  Which direction will it go, Square vs PayPal, will be determined by the consumers.  I think that Square’s method is just a stepping stone towards a credit card free payment system.  In the end, I think PayPal would win but both companies would co-exist for quite some time.  People would just use their cellphones to pay for everything in the future, but hard cash will not disappear in the near future that’s for sure.  I’d love to buy stuff from vending machines using my phone one day.  Japan is already doing that, why not here?!

To learn more about Square, go to their site here.

VIA|Engadget