Date archive for May, 2015

Facebook Introduces Instant Articles

by Admin - on May 14th 2015 - Comments Off on Facebook Introduces Instant Articles

smartphone-586903_640As if anyone need more reason to like Facebook? It was announced recently that the social media giant will deliver news to users faster and more comprehensive than ever before.

Dubbed as Instant Articles, the Facebook news reader will provide news organizations with opportunities to create interactive content designed to be much easier to read using their smartphone or tablet.

Instant Articles is geared to revolutionize news delivery, helping news firms convey their content to younger readers. Their current partners include National Geographic, Buzzfeed, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, Spiegel, and the BBC.

“We think the most important thing here is speed,” Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox says, “the obvious lesson we keep on learning is that on a mobile phone, the most important thing is immediacy.”

Facebook says users will have to wait as long as eight seconds for a news piece to load on a phone using the current system, and they’re planning to hasten that.

With Instant Articles, the news piece will fill the screen immediately with a few extras, such as photos, embedded videos and pop-out charts and maps. Facebook says this will help news firms make their articles more visually and mentally engaging.

One of the best things about Instant Articles is its commitment to providing tailored design for individual publishers to correspond with the features in their own websites.

But in the end, it all comes down to business and revenue sharing. Even with the promise of Instant Articles, news organizations will want to make sure their visitor traffic will increase. Facebook assures them that it will, and unlike in their old advertising network where they get a 70/3 revenue sharing deal, with Instant Articles, they will receive all profits generated from advertisements.

However, despite Facebook’s supremacy in social media sharing, news firms are wary of how their articles will behave, given the complicated and unpredictable mechanics behind Facebook’s newsfeed. With every tweak in the rules, much like in Google’s algorithm changes, traffic can abruptly plummet.

With this in mind, creators are being as careful as they can be. One news organization shared that being involved in Facebook’s new project is not only exciting but will certainly increase their content’s exposure in the most accessible gadget imaginable – the smartphone. Having said that, firms are treading lightly when it comes to handing over content distribution and having a third party decide how to use it.

“We will continue developing Instant Articles with our partners over the coming months and will listen to feedback from readers to help us improve the experience.” Facebook promises on their media website.

Pros And Cons Of Online Sociability

by Admin - on May 14th 2015 - Comments Off on Pros And Cons Of Online Sociability

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal claims that mobile technology has made people less sociable. With the increasing accessibility of smartphones and tablets, it’s also becoming increasingly easier for people to stay online and in their social media profiles. Apparently, that leaves a huge impact on how they socialize in the real world.

Online Connection is Different from Real-Life Bonding

facebook-76536_640According to a Pew Research survey, 71% of American adults have Facebook, and of these Facebook users, 45% check their profiles at least several times daily.

Being on Facebook entails looking at other people’s profiles, leaving comments on their posts and leaving posts on their wall. One would think that the Internet is actually a good platform for people to socialize. But for social psychologists, this can’t be farther from the truth.

What these online friendships do, say experts, is keep people from cultivating actual, more meaningful relationships.

Technology Feeds Anxiety and Vice Versa

In a study conducted by social psychologist Larry Rosen, it was found out that among 1,100 teens and adults, the majority of those aged under 35 couldn’t stand a few hours without checking their smartphones and tablets. Heavy users showed high levels of anxiety and unease when they were told they couldn’t use their mobile gadgets.

Anxiety feeds this behavior, says Rosen. The constant need to check phones comes from the anxiety of not knowing what’s going in the virtual world.

Additionally, it was found out that rabid smartphones users are people with either clinical or non-clinical social anxiety disorder. Those who can’t engage in real-life interactions turn to online faux bonding as a more comfortable alternative.

The problem with this, experts claim, is that socially anxious people tend to rely on social media, which doesn’t really offer the value of face-to-face communication. In fact, experts say they may be detrimental to the emotional health as they interrupt real human bonds.

“If we are constantly checking in with our virtual worlds, this leaves little time for our real-world relationships,” says Rosen.

In the Defense of Social Media

Other experts, on the other hand, claim that contrary to the notion that online social networks replace face-to-face sociability, they only supplement it. Their argument lies in the logic of meaningful online presence.

They say people can still expand their social horizons on the Internet, deepening and extending their connections to the world around them. With technology, people can take advantage of constant connectivity to make their close relationships even closer.

It all still depends on how people use or misuse the power of social media and technology altogether.

BlackBerry Leap – Leaps Into Store Shelves

by Admin - on May 14th 2015 - Comments Off on BlackBerry Leap – Leaps Into Store Shelves

smartphone-365072_640After Z10’s flop a few years back, it seemed that BlackBerry disappeared off the face of the tech market. Fans were scared they were not going to hear from the super brand anytime soon.

The company admitted to a $965 million loss due to Z10’s failure to meet expectations, both in sales and specs performance. Within the first quarter upon its release, it only managed to sell 5.9 million units. On the other hand, Apple smartphones sold 9 million units within the first weekend.

With fans and vendors alike disappointed by the sales turnout, BlackBerry went under the radar –staying quiet even through the release of the iPhone 5s until the recent launch of iPhone 6 and 6+.

What people didn’t know was that it was just biding its time for the release of something bigger and better, the BlackBerry Leap. Is this the chance at redemption BlackBerry has waited for? It’s for the experts to review and for the fans to decide.

Display

The Leap has a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 (720p) LCD display, an average size for most smartphones out today. It boasts a good quality panel, with sufficiently vibrant colors and effective white balance setting. The viewing angles are satisfactory; however the sunlight readability can certainly be improved.

Camera

Following its ancestors, the Z10 and Z30, the Leap has an 8-megapixel camera, with 2-megapixel front-facing shooter designed for selfies and video-calling. For a device meant for business applications and productivity, the back camera’s versatility would surprise the unsuspecting user.

For users who are into light stock camera interfaces, the Leap is a decent choice. From the settings menu, users can set the flash, timer and aspect ratio. Additionally, they can set HDR, choose among normal, panorama, burst-capture and time-shifting modes.

White balance settings, ISO values and exposure compensation are automatic. Like the iPhone, however, the loud shutter sound can’t be turned off.

Software

The Leap runs on BlackBerry OS 10.3.1, with a Dual-Core 1.5 GHz Krait. Except for the Amazon appstore, which startled most critics, it offers all features expected of the new BlackBerry. There isn’t much improvement from the Z series when it comes to response speed.

In fairness to the Leap, counter other critics, there’s a feeling of seamlessness in the navigations that was missing from the Z-series.

Perhaps the Leap’s most notable upgrade comes from the keyboard, which is the common problem among Android smartphones. The typing experience is fantastic, flawless even, other experts claim. Almost as smooth as – dare we say – the iPhone?

Being an Enterprise gadget with surprisingly high-performing camera features and long battery life, the Leap might just be the comeback Blackberry needs. Some critics forgive it for its shortcomings and encourage all BlackBerry fans to experience the upgrade.

Google Now Supports Apple Watch

by Admin - on May 14th 2015 - Comments Off on Google Now Supports Apple Watch

watch-756487_640Apple Watch users have waited for this moment. The question people have been asking has now been answered. After many months of silence, Google finally shows its support of Apple’s smartwatch, starting with its News and Weather app.

Despite the uproar of Apple Watches released last month, people felt the silence. It was hard to miss when something as big as Google was absent in one of Apple’s latest biggest marvels. “Can’t Google afford being part of the Apple Watch conversation?” was the common speculation.

But alas, by launching its News and Weather app, Google proves, again, that it can afford anything.

Although users were hoping for more substantial apps, like Gmail, Search, Maps, Google+ and Calendar, others choose to look at the silver lining – that Google is finally opening its doors to Apple smartwatches.

Well at least it’s a start.

Breaking the Google-Apple Feud

It’s a little known fact that Apple Watch’s success in sales last month did not bode so well for the Google app ecosystem, which stretches across super brands like Samsung, LG and Motorola. In 2014, Google-powered smartwatches sold 720,000 units.

Apple Watches, on the other hand, sold 957,000 units – on the first day. Perhaps the feud between these two giants is imaginary, but it’s highly possible, given the numbers and given Google’s fondness of Android, Apple’s ultimate competition, that it actually rings truer than people think.

In contrast, says a tech analyst, the bulk of Google’s revenue comes from software sales, not hardware sales. As much as people want to believe Apple is Google’s number one rival, the success of one doesn’t totally damage the other.

And with Google’s News and Weather app finally appearing in Apple Watches, people are more and more convinced that a business friendship is in the horizon.

Google brings news to your wrist

Apple Watch users were dying to have Google on their wrists. And now that they have it, are they satisfied? A good word to describe user reaction would be “underwhelmed.”

Basically, the app interface shows the latest headlines, along with time stamps and source tags, which are drawn from roughly 65,000 news sources. Nothing actually happens when someone clicks on the headlines, no enlarged news articles of rich and valuable content.

What it does is simply give users real-time updates in two sentences or less. Substance sacrificed for simplicity? Google can definitely do better.

A little consolation again for Google and Apple fans is that the app launch marks the start of a promising friendship. If this continues, everyone can look forward to more integrated projects in the future.

New Gadgets To Help People Sleep

by Admin - on May 14th 2015 - Comments Off on New Gadgets To Help People Sleep

sleeping-time-650684_640One of the most common problems among adults today is insufficient sleep. In fact, statistics indicates that sleep deprivation in the United States has now become a public health epidemic.

“It’s no secret that we live in a 24/7 society,” says Carl Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. “There are many more opportunities to do things other than sleep – 24-hour cable TV, the Internet, email, plus long work shifts.”

To remedy this, health experts from various specializations have come up with solutions, including sleeping medications, herbal pills, relaxation therapies and meditative exercises.

Technology is not one to back down from this challenge. This year, many tech inventions will emerge to prevent sleep loss.

Chrona Sleep Elite

The Chrona Sleep Elite is a sleep optimization system that transforms any pillow into a smart pillow. Instead of concentrating on the hours of sleep, it prioritizes the quality of sleep. With high-tech sensors packed into a thin memory foam that slides easily into any pillow case, the Chrona plays low-frequency sounds that drive users into a deep, soothing nighttime rest.

To ease users out of slumber, it emits high-frequency sounds before waking them with light and gentle vibrations. Interested buyers can get their Chrona shipped in December this year.

Kokoon EEG Headphones

The Kokoon EEG headphones are the first headphones comfortable enough to be slept in. Recognized as smart headphones, they can determine how and when to adjust the volume of the music as the users sleep and wake up.

Powered by ONKYO, the Kokoon EEG headphones have sensors and app that can track people’s sleep and provide clinical insights on how to improve its quality. For that extra comfort, engineers developed these headphones using their patented FlexMould Comfort System to fit the gadget to the natural contours of the head. With a soft gel cushioning, the Kokoon EEG headphones serve as extra pillows for the ears.

DreamScience

Tagged as the brainwave-oriented sleep companion, DreamScience by Oregon Scientific is a speaker system that helps users achieve more restful levels of sleep. With its patented Sleep Enhancement Technology, DreamScience creates a therapeutic state of calm by giving the user relaxing ambient sounds that adjust in volume and rhythm. This process is scientifically proven to relax the body and mind.

Their brainwave-embedded sequences can stimulate the brain’s beta, alpha and delta waves, which contribute to a peaceful, healing and meditative sleep.

The track list for Sleep Sounds includes Hawaiian, Tranquility and Unwind. Meanwhile, the track list for Wakeup Sounds includes Energize, Dawn Rain, Revitalize and Aurora. The retail release of DreamScience is expected June this year.