Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: New iPad, Google Search for Windows Phone”

Mashable!

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: New iPad, Google Search for Windows Phone”


Today’s Top Stories: New iPad, Google Search for Windows Phone

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 05:10 AM PST

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Apple Unveils New iPad

The story of the day (week, month?) is definitely Apple’s launch of the new iPad. We’ve got you covered from all angles: check out our initial coverage, a recap of all the important announcements and details from Apple’s event and our review of the new iPhoto app.

Apple Launches new Apple TV and iOS 5.1

With all the iPad-related news flying around, it’s easy to forget that Apple also announced a new version of Apple TV, now capable of playing 1080p video, at the same price: $99. A new version of iOS 5.1 is also available with Siri for Japan, camera enhancements and several other fixes and improvements.

Google Updates Search App for Windows Phone 7.5 Devices

Google has released a revamped version of its Search app for Windows Phone 7.5 devices. It now accepts voice input as well as auto-complete, and it can find places near the user without them actually typing in the location. You can get it here.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: apple, Apple TV, first to know series, Google, iOS, ipad, Search, windows phone

For more Tech coverage:


Ford Promotes New Escape With Prime Time Interactive TV Series

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:46 AM PST


Ford, always looking for a new way to promote its launches, is trying a unique approach to hyping its 2013 Escape: An interactive prime time reality series.

Called Escape Routes, the show will premiere on NBC and mun2 on March 31. The show, which will run for six episodes, features a cast of six teams of two who will vie in a road trip competition. (The photo to the right features Chekesha and Tiffany, who make up one of the teams.)

Each week, the teams will arrive in a new city (Los Angeles is first) and compete in a series of “spontaneous adventures and interactive challenges,” according to Ford. Viewers will be able to interact with the teams via escaperoutes.com.

To ensure some online buzz, the automaker has enlisted online personality iJustine to be “embedded” into the contest and share behind-the-scenes content with fans.

Ford is publicizing the launch with a Google Hangout Thursday in which fans can talk to members of the six teams.

The reality TV series comes after Ford launched the Escape last November with the world’s largest Words With Friends game, which pitted Jenny McCarthy against fans.

In the past few years, Ford has attempted to attract attention to its various launches with social media firsts. In 2009, the company relaunched its Fiesta hatchback by giving the model to 100 “social agents,” who promoted the car on social media. In 2010, the automaker became the first to launch a new model on Facebook, the 2011 Explorer. Last December, Ford used a mobile app to tease the reveal of its 2013 Fusion.

What do you think of Ford’s new marketing push? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Advertising, ford, Marketing, TV


App Makes Your Smartphone a Hotel TV Remote Control

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:19 AM PST


Fact: Hotel remote controls are gross. A new app, however, turns your smartphone or tablet into a TV remote so you don’t have to share germs with every previous guest of your room.

The new app is produced by LodgeNet, a company that provides in-room on-demand entertainment to 85% of the American hospitality industry. But Todd Kelly, LodgeNet’s vice president of interactive and mobile applications, says the app was developed not just to serve traveling germaphobes. As mobile devices have proliferated in recent years, people increasingly turn to their smarthphones and tablets for entertainment at home and on the road — not a welcome trend for LodgeNet.

“It was affecting our business for sure,” Kelly told Mashable during a recent demonstration of LodgeNet Mobile. “We were smart enough to realize we had to figure out how this works within what we do.”

LodgeNet Mobile is a free download available for Android (click here) and iOS (click here) devices. You’re also given an option prompting you to download it when visiting the LodgeNet welcome screen on a hotel room TV set. The app works in any room connected to the service — all you have to do is pair it to each new TV set as you travel around.

Once downloaded and paired with your in-room TV, the app is simple, intuitive and convenient to use. Scrolling through channels is easier with than with a normal room remote. It’s also easier to navigate on-demand movie options. And billing movie purchases to either your room or credit card is another convenient step.

In addition to offering an easier way to manage in-room entertainment options, a second section connects you to information about the hotel where you’re staying, which is terrific for ordering room service or making spa reservations. The app’s third section section — which is still being beefed up with deals and connectivity to reservation systems — connects you to information on local restaurants, sights and events.

LodgeNet Mobile was officially launched Jan. 30 and is available in more than 600,000 of the company’s 1.7 million rooms. By year’s end, Kelly expects a million rooms to support LodgeNet Mobile. It’s a pretty sweet download for anyone who travels often, and will only get better as the company adds more rooms and fills out the local information features.

Would you use something like this? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of LodgeNet

More About: App, smartphones, tablets, travel


Check Out The First Ad for the New iPad [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:08 AM PST


You’ve seen the photos of the new iPad, you’ve heard about its specs, you know everything you need to know about it, and now it’s time to let Apple’s official ad explain to you why this is the tablet you should buy.

Unsurprisingly, the ad focuses on the new iPad’s Retina display, which has a 2048×1536 pixel resolution, making it the most advanced (when it comes to pixel density, at least) tablet screen on the market today.

“When a screen becomes this good, colors are more vibrant. Words are pin sharp; everything is more brilliant,” says the soothing overvoice in the ad.

The ad doesn’t mention the device’s new quad-core A5X chip, and there’s not much focus on the new 5-megapixel camera, either. We can expect to see more about these in the upcoming ads.

How do you like the ad? Share your opinions in the comments.

More About: ad, apple, ipad, ipad 3, trending, Video


Getting A New iPad? Here Are the Top 25 Free iPad Apps To Get You Started [PICS]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 12:20 AM PST

Whether you’re waiting to snag a new iPad or purchasing a discounted iPad 2, you’ll need some apps to really make it useful. Alongside its 25 billionth app download announcement this past weekend Apple also announced what apps were instrumental in helping it reach that number.

Curious what made the list? Here’s a look back at the 25 most popular free iPad apps of all time:


1. Angry Birds HD Free





It shouldn't be a surprise that Angry Birds took top honors when it comes to iPad apps. Angry Birds Free HD came in #1 and offers 15 levels of high-flying action with 5 mini episodes of pig-crushing fun. The version in the top position is an ad-supported version of Angry Birds HD which is also available for the iPad in the App Store.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, apps, ipad


Apple Event: Everything We Know [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 09:11 PM PST


Apple put all of the rumors to rest at its event Wednesday, revealing the long-awaited new iPad, or as CEO Tim Cook calls it, “the poster child of the post-PC world." The company also revealed additional software and company updates.

Couldn’t keep up with all the action? Read further for all of our coverage on the event.

Mashable’s Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff and Deputy Editor Chris Taylor, among other journalists, reported live in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. You can read an entire transcript of the conversation here.

Some of the new iPad's key features include a 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel "retina display,” which has a higher resolution than a standard 1080p HDTV, and four times as many pixels and 44% greater image saturation than the iPad 2. The device also comes with an A5X quad-core graphics chip.

The new iPad will be available for pre-sale Wednesday, and then devices will arrive Mar. 16 in stores in the U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Austria. Prices for the device start at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model.

As for the iPad 2, the device will follow in the footsteps of iPhone 4 and stick around. The iPad 2 will drop in price to $399.

Apple TV also received an upgrade, with software that now supports 1080p video. Second-generation Apple TV owners will be able to download this update.

Photographers will be happy to know iPhoto has made its way to the iPad, which will allow for quick editing and sharing on the go. Other apps to receive iPad updates include iLife, iWork and Garage Band.

If all the news from today’s event may have left you and your social media feeds dizzy, we have all our coverage rounded up for you right here.


Resources From the Apple Event



Apple iPad Event





Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Apple TV, features, ipad, trending

For more Tech coverage:


Are You Falling Into the Pricing Trap?

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 09:01 PM PST


This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

When Molly first launched her catering business, she offered deep discounts to family, friends, referrals and pretty much anyone else. Tom took the same approach when he started his graphic design business; he charged nearly 50% the going rate in order to lock in his first crop of clients.

Eager to attract clients and customers, many new businesses undercut their prices. And all too often, these companies face a similar fate: Their business grows, their customers are more than satisfied, more customers come in, and these businesses are busier than ever. Everything looks to be a success — except the bottom line. It's an unsustainable operation, in which entrepreneurs are running as fast as they can, yet they're still barely bringing in enough money to stay afloat.

Welcome to the pricing trap. If you feel like your business is treading water even as sales volume picks up steam, it's time to revisit one of the four “P's” of marketing: your price.


Raise Your Confidence, Raise Your Rates


Typically, a lack of confidence is at the root of underpricing products or services. Many new businesses charge the least amount possible, out of fear that clients won't pay more. Then, they worry what will happen if they ask to raise their prices. Of course, this approach leaves you with long hours, not enough income and clients who don't value your services.

At the most basic level, your business is all about earning the money you deserve for the value you bring to customers. By undercharging clients, you send the message that your services and talents are worth less than your contemporaries. You undermine the unique value you bring to the table and open the door to resentment down the road. And you end up attracting clients who are pure bargain shoppers, the ones who are looking to get a lot for a little. (It’s sort of like the argument against Groupons for small business.)


When Higher Prices are Better for Your Clients


Are you afraid that charging more money will mean you'll be working longer hours? This is a common concern among new entrepreneurs, yet the reality is actually the opposite.

When your pricing is set too low, you need to take on more clients and clock more hours (or sell more products) to stay in business. What's the result? You're time-pressed, overworked and frazzled. You're no longer able to give each client the close attention you once did; rather, it feels like a nonstop race to bring in new customers.

If you're good at what you do (which you are) and are confident in the value you provide to clients (which you should be), then you should have no problem raising your prices. You'll end up being able to spend more time with each client — thus delivering even greater value.

There's another advantageous offshoot from raising your prices: You end up working with people who understand the value of investing in higher priced, higher value solutions. In short, your pricing strategy can help you attract the right kind of customers.


Pricing Sets the Perceived Value


By undervaluing your products or services, you're instantly lowering the perceived value. A jewelry artisan relayed her experience the first time she sold her products at a higher end craft fair. As a budding designer, she was just starting out and less than savvy when it came to pricing and her marketplace.

One customer looked to buy a pair of pearl earrings and mistook the $25 price tag for $75. The designer explains, "When I corrected her, I assumed she'd be ecstatic; after all she was getting the earrings for $50 less. What I saw instead was a glimmer of disappointment. Here they were, the exact same earrings. But at $25, they suddenly seemed less desirable."

Consumers buy based on perceived value. You can actually empower your business and products by raising your prices.


One Small Business Example


My husband and I launched a legal document filing company in 2009. At that time, it was an already saturated industry with thousands of competitors (and some pretty large names, too). In fact, the entire industry was commoditized and with commodities, so the lowest price wins, right? In a rush to attract and acquire customers, we positioned our product as low price/high volume.

We soon found ourselves losing money with each order we'd receive. Since we weren't looking to trick any customers into upselling services they didn't need, we needed a different strategy to fix our bottom line. We switched our mindset from selling a commoditized product to selling a service. And in doing so, we increased our prices, by 20% for some services, up to 100% for others.

Naturally, we were nervous about the impact … how much business would we lose with our new prices? We were shocked by the result. Our sales volume increased by 9% the first month, then 22% the following month. 

The moral of the story? There wasn't enough room for us to compete in a commoditized industry, but we could easily differentiate our services by illustrating the unique value we bring to the table. By competing on performance instead of purely price, we could frame the customer's decision in terms of our company's strengths.


Communicate Your Value


Whether you are announcing your prices to the market for the first time or changing your pricing structure, it's important that you communicate exactly what you offer and every single benefit you deliver. Identify where you do a superior job of meeting your customer's needs and then communicate this extra value to the customer. This is where your marketing language becomes essential.

As long as you deliver something that is superior to the competition and other alternatives in a meaningful way, you'll be able to raise your prices, avoid the pricing trap, be compensated fairly and create a robust business for the long haul.


More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:


- Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips
- Community Managers Share Best Productivity Apps and Tools
- 4 Tools for Better Agency-Client Collaboration

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Talaj, hidesy.

More About: features, freelancers, Marketing, mashable, online marketing, open forum, small business tips, Startups

For more Business coverage:


How Twitter Reacted to the New iPad Announcement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 08:52 PM PST

It’s likely your Twitter feed has been buzzing with talk about the new iPad all week, but what does that mean? Data on Twitter can tell you who and where these tweets are coming from.

The rumors about the iPad 3 versus iPad HD have since been resolved (it’s just iPad). As you can see in this interactive chart, Twitter users seemed to have their money on the name iPad 3, which at more than 11,000 tweets, was the most talked-about. However, the iPad chatter dwarfed conversation about Apple TV, which received a little more than 2,100 tweets.

It comes to no surprise that most of the conversation originated in the U.S. and Europe, even with the additional Japanese support for Siri.

Thanks to Ross Perez and the team at Tableau Software for putting this data visualization together for us.

More About: features, infographic, ipad, Twitter


Dollar Shave Club Video Also Used to Woo Investors

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 08:44 PM PST


By making the audacious claim that “our blades are f**king great,” startup Dollar Shave Club’s video has been a hit with consumers — pulling in more than 600,000 views in two days and netting 5,000 orders. But before that, it went viral with investors as well.

Michael Dubin, the guy in the video and CEO of the fledgling company, says he shot the video in October and used it to woo VCs including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, who collectively put $1 million behind the company. “We develop great content,” Dubin says, “and [the video] said, ‘This is the tone of voice we’re going to come at it with.’”

Dubin’s description of Dollar Shave Club as a “content producer” may sound strange given the company’s business. Dollar Shave Club came about when Dubin, a former digital marketing director at Sports Illustrated, met up with Mark Levine at a holiday party in December 2010. Levine knew how to get cheap razors online and suggested that he and Dubin sell them.

It was Dubin who came up with a subscription model — the company charges on a monthly basis, starting at $3 for a standard two-blade razor. Dubin argued that there was an audience for such an offering. “We were able to show people that you can get cheap razors at Kmart, but people don’t want to be seen at Kmart and don’t want to deal with a parking lot,” Dubin says.

But how to get consumers’ attention? A company called Orabrush had launched its oral care brand in 2009 with funny, irreverent YouTube videos. That brand wasn’t a conscious influence, but maybe it was a subliminal one. “What they did was smart was very successful for them,” Dubin says. “They showed you can use humor and be irreverent and have a great brand story. That ad was certainly in my subconscious.” A more direct influence was Old Spice, whose “The man your man could smell like” campaign informed Dubin’s mock bluster, not to mention the ad’s series of tracking shots.

Now that the ad has made its mark with consumers, Dollar Shave Club is dealing with “typical startup stuff,” Dubin says, including servers that are crashing from too much traffic. At the moment, the company is planning a sequel, probably around Father’s Day.

Meanwhile, Dubin says he’s not afraid of a persistent fashion trend that could limit the scope of his new business: Beards. “Look, we love beards,” he says. “I personally can’t grow a beard. If I could, I would. But we’re not beardphobic.”

More About: Dollar Shave Club, Marketing, Startups, videos, YouTube


Social Media Privacy: 3 Questions to Ask Before Authorizing Third-Party Apps

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 08:34 PM PST


Jamie Beckland is a digital and social media strategist at Janrain, where he helps Fortune 1000 companies integrate social media technologies into their websites to improve user acquisition and engagement. He has built online communities since 2004. He tweets as @Beckland.

Never completely off the radar, privacy concerns recently stepped back into the spotlight.

In the past months alone, privacy issues have emerged from all corners. The California Attorney General is twisting arms for better app disclosures, and startup Path apologized for scraping address books. And during February’s OpenDialogue, CEO of Thornley Fallis Joseph Thornley claimed that Facebook "violates our privacy day by day, because it's impossible to give informed consent."
 
But the privacy conversation has shifted in an important way. In the past, identity providers like Facebook and Google were blasted for their obtuse and complicated privacy policies. Questions still remain on that front, but by and large, identity providers have given users more control, and the uprisings have quelled for the moment.
 
Consider the difference in the response to Facebook's 2007 Beacon program vs. the new Facebook Open Graph protocol. The former was lambasted as a gross violation of user trust, was built without disclosure in mind, and was killed. Eventually Mark Zuckerberg admitted that it was a "mistake." By contrast, the frictionless sharing capabilities of the new Open Graph protocols have not seen any serious backlash (despite protests from Marshall Kirkpatrick, who maintains that it doesn’t make sense to roadblock a link).
 
The good news is that authorizing third parties to use an existing social identity is a one-way flow of information: from the identity provider to the application that the user has authorized. User profile data from a brand website or app is not shared with Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn or any other identity provider. Your browsing paths are not suddenly available to social networks, and your behavior after authentication is only available to the website you are actually on.
 
But increasingly, the privacy conversation has widened to ask what apps are doing with the permissions they request, and how the information is actually being used. In order to understand what is actually happening with user data, we need to answer three separate questions.


1.  What Does the App Request?


Different identity providers offer differing amounts of information about a user, and require different access credentials. For example, Google delivers a verified and authenticated email address with a basic permission, while Twitter does not deliver any email address at all. My company has indexed the critical data elements and permissions available on more than 20 platforms.
 
On top of what is available, app developers must determine which permissions and data elements they will request from the identity provider. This is implemented on an app-by-app basis; therefore, users can expect no shortcuts when reviewing the now commonplace permission screens that appear when we authenticate through social channels.


2.  What Is Available on the User’s Profile?


Users can grant apps permission to access field-level information, but if those fields are blank, the identity provider will return a blank value. For example, if the birthday field is not filled out on LinkedIn, users can still use LinkedIn to authenticate, but the application will not be able to automatically send those users free coffee on their birthdays, for example.
 
This is a crude line of defense, but it's important to remember. Even when a list of permissions looks long and possibly intimidating, since people use specific identities for different purposes, some of the data may not be available. And with more identity providers offering distinct views into a user's identity, it's less likely that a complete picture of a user is available from any app in particular.


3. What Does the Application Actually Store and Use?


It's impossible to know exactly what information gets dropped into an application's database, but the reality is that social profile data is incredibly complicated to store and manage. Even when applications receive a data payload from the identity provider, there’s no guarantee that the data is being collected somewhere.

However, any profile data that is presented back to the user within the app experience is clearly being stored. If a user sees a list of her friends who also use the app, it's clear that the social graph has been shared to the application.
 
For app developers, then, the decision about what permissions to ask for becomes easy: Only ask for what you will use in the experience you are designing. If there is not an immediate use case, don't ask for permission at that time. It's possible to go back to users and ask for additional permissions and data when they want to interact with a specific experience. Align what the user is giving up (his data) with what you are giving him (a valuable way to use his data).
 
Each user will weigh privacy concerns differently, both for himself and for the brand that is requesting the information. The brand relationship, though, ends up being the most important consideration.

In a complicated environment, with so many privacy factors to consider, users often fast-forward their decisions about whether to share social profile data based on soft factors like brand trust. If a user trusts Coke (or the Washington Post, or Zynga), he will likely assume that the brand will use personal data responsibly and for the user's benefit.
 
What brands do you trust with your data?

Image courtesy of Flickr, jaxxon

More About: apps, contributor, data, features, privacy, Social Media, user data


iPhoto for iPhone and iPad: Hands On

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 08:21 PM PST


Alongside the new iPad and updated Apple TV, Apple released iPhoto for iOS, thus completing the process of bringing the iLife trifecta to the iPhone and iPad.

With iPhoto for iOS [iTunes link] users get a robust photo editor in an easy-to-use package. Priced at just $4.99, the app is a wonder. Like its counterparts GarageBand and iMovie, iPhoto for iOS redefines what it means to be a mobile or tablet app by deftly combining the best elements of the desktop with iOS.

As an editor, iPhoto for iPhone and iPad is surprisingly robust. The RAW support isn’t perfect (in essence, edits are derived from the embedded JPEG and saved as JPEG), but it’s a start. The array of filters, editing options and brushes on par with — if not better than — what users can find in iPhoto ’11 for Mac. Even better, iPhoto for iOS makes it easy to share and publish photos to various social networks and photo services.


Albums




You can browse through photos sorted into albums. Albums are generated either automatically or manually within iPhoto for Mac.

Click here to view this gallery.


Using iPhoto

iPhoto for iOS is a heavy-duty app. The requirements for the app are such that it requires an iPhone 4 or 4S and an iPad 2 or higher to run. While this might disappoint some original iPad owners, the limitation makes sense once you use the app.

The non-destructive editing that iPhoto is known for is on full display. It’s easy to make edits to a photo, quickly view how the photo looked untouched and revert or undo various edits. Just as with iPhoto for Mac, users can browse photos by events, albums and photos.

After selecting a photo, users can start editing using “Auto-Enhance,” Effects, Brushes, White Balance and Contrast tools. The Auto-Enhance feature applies pre-configured filters to a photo to try to make it look its best. Effects are basically filters, and include categories such as “Artistic,” “Vintage,” “Aura,” “Black and White” and “Duotone.”

I found the White Balance and Brushes tools to be the most useful. The Brushes include options such as “Repair,” “Red Eye” and “Desaturate.” Select a brush and then “paint” with your finger over the photo. Users can enable an option to “show brush strokes” to make it easier to see where an adjustment has been applied.

Likewise, the White Balance options are far more comprehensive than I was expecting. In addition to choosing white balance points from various perspectives — and applying preset options based on type of shot — users can also adjust specific types of color in an image.

It’s also remarkably easy to crop an image and skew or straighten that same image. I decided to do my best Instagram impression by applying a 1×1 crop and one of the vintage filters. For good measure, I also made the image askew.

Check out the results:



Journals


Journals are one of the more interesting parts of iPhoto for iOS, if only because of the strong Web component. Journals are basically digital versions of the photo books that Apple includes in iPhoto and Aperture for OS X.

Users can arrange photos at will, and add pages, text headings, descriptions, captions and elements such as weather, location and even food. After completing a journal, a digital version can be shared with users via iCloud.

Journals are uploaded to iCloud and have the option of being assigned to a user’s home page. This home page isn’t easily accessible (unlike the former iWeb pages that MobileMe and .Mac users were given), but there is an option to email a link to the journal or collection.

You can check out a sample journal I made here.

I love the idea of making it easy to create private and semi-private photo websites on the iPhone or iPad. I do wish it was easier to access these journals from a desktop Web browser and that iPhoto for OS X included Journals support.


Sharing


Sharing is an absolute requisite in any mobile or tablet photo app — whether it is for taking photos or editing. iPhoto for iOS supports Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, email, the iPhone Camera roll and iCloud. Uploads to Facebook and Flickr include options of applying tags or uploading to specific photosets. Users can also adjust their privacy settings for Flickr photos within the share option.

Sharing with Twitter will upload the image to Twitter’s image service and send out a tweet from the hooks built-in to iOS 5.



Wrapping Up


It’s hard to find a better way to spend $4.99 in the App Store than on iPhoto for iOS. While Adobe might not need to worry about Photoshop Touch (the apps are actually quite different), third-party photo editors, including App-of-the-Year Snapspeed have their work cut out for them. With iPhoto for iOS, Apple has managed to offer a great set of photo tools for amateurs, while still having enough features that will make more serious users consider using the iPad for first-pass adjustments.

Let us know in the comments what you think of iPhoto for iOS.

More About: apple, features, ipad, iphone, iPhoto, iphoto ios, Photos, trending


New Gtrot Could Be the Pinterest for Happenings In Your City

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 08:04 PM PST


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Gtrot

Quick Pitch: Utilize your social network to explore your city.

Genius Idea: Gtrot is being re-launched at the end of March as a tool to explore your city. The original Gtrot was a tool to use your social network and find friend recommendations about travel destinations. Could the new Gtrot apply all the same features to local happenings?


While traveling may be awesome, most of the time we’re in our home cities — but we still want to have fun.

Launched in May 2011 as a travel web tool for your social network, Gtrot announced its re-launch in November. It will now be a tool to explore your home city using your social network. Gtrot’s website is still focused on travel at the moment, but the company says the new site will launched later this month.

On Tuesday, Gtrot tweeted, “We’re moving away from the travel space and closer to local discovery.”

Short for globetrotting, Gtrot would let users connect with friends to find out what cool things they’ve done abroad and places they’ve visited. And now that feature is going to pertain to local about-town to-dos.

The website TNooz posted a letter Gtrot sent to its users regarding the upcoming change:
“When we launched the current gtrot.com in November, we thought we built a travel planning product. Turns out we were wrong. 

Personalized recommendations for restaurants, nightlife, deals, events and more are great for travel. But nearly half of your started exploring your home city, using this advice to plan your weekend or night out. 

So this month, we're relaunching gtrot to give users what you want: a platform for discovering your city, sharing your favorite things, and making plans with friends. Follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date on the relaunch!”

If the new Gtrot works like the old one, it will link users with friends on Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, lettign users gather all of their recommendations in one place. The old Gtrot would let users login with Facebook and forward flight and hotel bookings to trips@gtrot.com and Gtrot would offer to send a message to social media connections who have traveled to those destinations. Maybe now the same will be true for concerts or dinner reservations? One click would post all of those notices to your friends’ Facebook walls. Comments will be added to your plans.

One Twitter-er wrote, “@gtrot a travel social utility seems to be redefining itself to become Pinterest for your city. Looking forward to see result.” Could Gtrot be the next Pinterest for city happenings?

Gtrot may have chosen to focus on local happenings rather than travel because that space is already full — there’s TripAdvisor, Gogobot, Dopplr and many others.

Based in Chicago, Gtrot began as a class project at Harvard. It was awarded the Harvard College Innovation Challenge and is now well-funded startup with backing by Lightbank.

Are you eager to use the new Gtrot? Can you think of any similar tools? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, FrankvandenBergh


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: Facebook, travel, web tools


Largest Solar Storm In Years to Hit Earth Thursday

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 07:39 PM PST


The most powerful solar storm in half a decade is about to hit our planet Earth, putting electrical systems, satellite navigation and other technology at a slight risk of failure.

The Sun released a Coronal Mass Ejection, a mighty explosion of plasma, on Tuesday evening. The effects of that ejection should strike Earth at approximately 7 a.m. ET on Thursday morning and last until Friday, according to the federal government’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Bob Rutledge, lead at the Forecast Office at the Space Weather Prediction Center, told Mashable he thinks the storm is “modest,” but it’s getting attention because “we haven’t really had a lot [of solar activity] in recent memory.”

Rutledge and his team don’t consider the storm to be powerful enough to cause serious damage. They have classified the event as a “three” on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s one-to-five scale of solar storm severity.

According to that rating, the storm might wreck havoc with power grids, radio communications, GPS systems and Earth-orbiting satellites, but it shouldn’t cause major blackouts or failures.

Additionally, according to Rutledge, some airlines are already planning alternate routes to avoid the Earth’s polar regions. Those areas are particularly sensitive to solar radiation, which has been known to cause communication problems between aircraft during solar storms.

What about the astronauts living onboard the International Space Station, outside the protective shield of Earth’s atmosphere? NASA spokesman Rob Navias said today that the space agency doesn’t consider the storm strong enough to warrant taking extra precautions for their astronauts.

There’s a silver (and blue, and green and purple) lining to a solar storm — their radiation is known to trigger particularly impressive light shows from the Aurora Borealis, or “northern lights.”

If the storm arrives around the time it’s expected, stargazers in Central Asia will stand the best chance of witnessing the Aurora’s dancing colors, although viewers from northern latitudes across the world may be treated to a glimpse, too. But, unfortunately for curious onlookers who venture out in the March cold for a solar show, their view may be impeded by Thursday night’s bright full Moon.

Are you worried about the potential effects of the solar storm? Or are you hoping for a glimpse at the Aurora Borealis? Sound off in the comments below.

Images courtesy of NASA

More About: NASA, solar storm, space, trending


What’s My iPad 2 Worth? Here’s How to Sell It Online

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 07:27 PM PST


Wednesday Apple announced a new iPad, sending a flurry of enthusiastic iPad owners to the interwebs to ditch their old tablets to make way for the new.

So, how much can you expect to get for an iPad 2 now that there’s a new iPad on the way? We did some digging on the Web to check out what options are available for reselling, and how much you could receive post-announcement.

For the sake of argument, we acted as though our iPad was in like-new condition, in good working order with no scratches. We picked a 32GB Wi-Fi model to take through the paces and found that we could get anywhere from $194-$400 for the same tablet in pristine condition depending on where we decided to sell it.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the options:


CashForiPads


CashForiPads is offering $283 for a 32GB iPad that powers on and works fine. The site wasn’t interested in what damage might have occurred to our tablet, as long as that damage didn’t involve the screen or the battery. The site is currently offering $247 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, and $325 for the top-of-the-line 64GB Wi-Fi/3G version of the tablet. If you decide to sell your iPad 2 to CashForiPads the company will send you a free pre-paid mailer and shipment label to mail your iPad in. once your tablet is in the mail you’ll have a tracking number to monitor its progress, and can get paid via check or PayPal upon acceptance from CashForiPads.


Gazelle


Gazelle is one of the better-known sites for trading in old electronics. It’s currently offering $225 for a pristine 32GB Wi-Fi iPad 2, $185 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, and $300 for a flawless 64GB 3G/Wi-Fi version of the tablet. Gazelle offers free shipping if you decide to sell your iPad, and will pay you via check, Amazon gift card, or PayPal once your iPad has been received and inspected.


NextWorth


NextWorth is site very similar to Gazelle and would give us $317.10 for our like-new 32GB, the most of any of the trade-in sites. Unlike some of the other sites, however, NextWorth asks quite a few questions about the tablet’s condition. We’d lose $10 of that $317.10 for not including the original box with our iPad 2 when we sent it in, and the price drops down to $267.10 if the back plate is dented or scratched. The site will give us $291.89 for our 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2, and get an astounding $406.35 for our 64GB Wi-Fi/3G version.


BuyMyTronics


BuyMyTronics is a similar site to Gazelle and will buy your iPad 2 even if its broken. The site is currently offering $194 for our 32GB Wi-Fi iPad 2, and will pay $183 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and $241 for the 64GB 3G/Wi-Fi version. Much like the other sites, BuyMyTronics will pay for you to send them your tablet, and will send you a check or PayPal payment once it has received and checked out your tablet.


eBay


Surprisingly, eBay seems to be where you’re going to get the most cash for your iPad 2 if you’re trying to sell it today. Used versions of the 32GB Wi-Fi iPad are currently selling for around $400. A used 16GB iPad 2 sells for around $350, and the 64GB Wi-Fi/3G version is still fetching around $500 on the site. Selling your tablet on eBay requires you to pay a fee to eBay itself for handling the transaction, and then another to PayPal for handling the money part of the equation. While those fees will definitely cut into your profits, they might be worth it if you can get bids on the site higher than what’s being offered elsewhere.


Craigslist


Craigslist is another option for selling your iPad to a private party. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get the same amount of money (if not more) for your tablet as you can on eBay. And, there’s an added bonus of having cash in hand instantly. One downside of Craigslist, however, is that you’ll have to coordinate with and meet with whomever you choose to sell it to. When dealing with large sums of cash and electronics in an in-person encounter with a stranger, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the extra cash you might potentially receive.

SEE ALSO: Why you should sell your iPad 2 Now
There are tons of businesses and trade-in programs where you can sell your iPad or iPad 2. If you decide to sell your iPad to a company, make sure you do a little research beforehand to ensure that company is reputable and doesn’t have a ton of outstanding complaints about them. Likewise, if you choose to sell your iPad to an individual, make sure you’re meeting at a time and location where you feel comfortable making the transaction.

Have any of you tried to sell your iPad or iPad 2 now that there’s a new iPad on the way? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

More About: apple, Apple iPad, ebay, trending

For more Mobile coverage:


Watch Two $400 Spacecraft LEGO Models Crash [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 06:52 PM PST


Two Star Wars fans invested more than $800 into buying LEGO models of the most powerful spacecraft in the Star Wars Galaxy to crash them.

See what happens when the LEGO Super Star Destroyer and LEGO Death Star vessels — over 6955 pieces put together — collide in the video above. Norm Chan and Will Smith, the tech editors at Tested.com who usually make hilarious videos about technology, created this feast for the eyes with incredible sound effects and space background.

SEE ALSO: Han Solo Yourself with Star Wars and JibJab [VIDEO]

This is not their first video about LEGOS. A couple of months ago, the pair filmed themselves competing for the title of LEGO Master Builder. Fun fact: Chan and Smith applied to be on Season 20 of The Amazing Race.

Would you purposely crash expensive LEGO models you paid for? Tell us in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Tim Norris

More About: Lego, Video, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:


How Gen Y Women Fare in Today’s Workplace [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 06:21 PM PST

We’re past the Betty Drapers and the Jane Jetsons (although, it would be pretty sweet to have a robot maid on reserve), but forging new frontiers for young working women has continued to be a challenge. In tandem with International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s explore the state of today’s Gen Y woman in the contemporary workforce.

While today’s Gen Y woman (aged 18-29) encounters more visible female role models in the workplace, she sometimes struggles to assert herself when it comes to her career. According to the data below, when surveyed, 54% of women proactively managed their careers, compared to 64% of men. And 31% of Gen Y women feel their careers are stagnant.

SEE ALSO: Why Women Make Excellent Entrepreneurs in the Digital Age

On the other hand, many women in this age group prioritize work/life balance, admitting that they have stayed with their employers longer due to flexible work schedules.

In many respects, women have a potential leg-up on men when it comes to the workforce. Women use social media more than men to connect with friends, family and co-workers. And between 1997 and 2011, the number of women-owned firms increased by 50%, leading many to posit that women are powerfully impacting entrepreneurship.

Accenture has created this infographic based on research they conducted in 2012. See the full report here.


Infographic courtesy of Accenture.

Thumbnail courtesy of iStockphoto, aldomurillo

More About: career, infographic, trending, women, workplace

For more Business coverage:


iPhone 4S Upgrade on AT&T Claims to Add 4G Service — But Does It?

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 06:04 PM PST


If you download iOS 5.1 onto your AT&T iPhone 4S, you’ll notice something new — your phone now has 4G. Or at least, that’s what it claims.

Let’s be clear: iOS 5.1 does nothing to change the speed of your handset’s data connection. But it does mark the end of an ongoing discussion between AT&T and Apple on whether the phone’s service could in fact be labeled "4G." And it gives iPhone owners bragging rights when arguing with Android owners.

AT&T has been working behind the scenes with Apple on this question since the launch of the iPhone 4S. The phone has always been able to connect to AT&T’s HSDPA network (where it’s available).

HSDPA stands for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. For all intents and purposes, it offers an enhanced version of 3G data. The technology is primarily used in Europe. AT&T also offers HSDPA in a number of metropolitan areas in the US.

AT&T says its HSDPA speeds count 4G. According to the International Telecommunications Union, however, HSDPA is not a fourth-generation network. It’s more like 3.5G.

SEE ALSO: What is 4G? An FAQ on Next Generation Wireless

HSDPA has a potential downlink capability of 14.4Mbps. It’s a technology related to GSM (the type of network that AT&T runs on). Since Verizon and Sprint run on CDMA, they do not offer HSDPA connectivity. That means its data speeds could be slower in some places than the AT&T version of the same phone.

Despite the potential speed difference, phones on all three carriers showed 3G in the status bar when connected to data networks — until Wednesday, that is. Adding the 4G designation on the AT&T version of the iPhone 4S gives the company at the least a marketing advantage over its competition.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 4S: Should You Choose AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint?

It’s important to note that 4G is much different than LTE, the much faster data network that will be used by the new iPad. IOS 5.1 also contains some bug fixes and brings Japanese language support for Siri.

Have any of you downloaded iOS 5.1 on your iPhone? Were you surprised to see the 4G indicator appear on your phone? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, iOS 5.1, iPhone 4S, trending

For more Mobile coverage:


What Was Super Tuesday’s Top Social Media Moment?

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 05:45 PM PST

Super Tuesday, one of the most crucial delegate-gaining days during the race for the Republican presidential nomination, inspired more than 530,000 comments across the social web. (This writer contributed to at least a handful of them!)

Rick Santorum had the most total mentions throughout the night — 40,000 mentions, to be exact, which was a new “2012 Election Twitter record,” according to Twitter. That’s the highest number of mentions for a candidate on a single day since Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary:


But which specific events from Super Tuesday caused the most conversation across the social web? Mashable turned to Bluefin Labs to find out.

Bluefin found that Mitt Romney’s speech, which accused President Obama of “failing” the American people, caused the highest spike in social conversation of the night. Romney walked away from Super Tuesday with wins in the all-important Ohio as well as in Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. That video can be viewed below:

Bluefin Labs, which analyzes the social conversation around shows and events broadcast on television, did an excellent break down of the Super Tuesday online chatter. Bluefun looked at public posts on Facebook, Twitter and microblogs over a 24-hour period, beginning bright and early at 6 a.m. ET Tuesday. \

According to Bluefin, approximately 79% of the comments posted about Super Tuesday were neutral in tone, while 11% were positive about some candidate or issue and 10% of posts had a negative tone. Also, Bluefin discovered something of a gender gap in the conversation: male social media users posted about Super Tuesday much more so than female users.

SEE ALSO: How to Follow Super Tuesday on Social Media

Bluefin shared its findings with Mashable, along with a frequency chart showing which of the night’s other events caused a spike in the online commentary. Check out the results below:

Super Tuesday Infographic

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Facebook, Mitt Romney, Politics, Social Media, Twitter


Pinterest Meets Trip Advisor: Wanderfly Launches New Travel Site

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 05:30 PM PST


Travel recommendation engine Wanderfly’s new site works like a Pinterest built for personalized travel.

The startup unveiled the update at the Launch Festival in San Francisco Wednesday.

As with Wanderfly’s previous site, users can browse ideal travel destinations based on duration, price and specific criteria.

For instance, I chose “adventure,” “off the beaten path,” “authentic” and “food” and received a list of 24 suggestions that included Halifax, Canada; Turku, Finland and Sonoma, California — complete with huge photos to satisfy my armchair-travel appetite.

On the old Wanderfly site, details such as hotel prices, airfare, things to do and the weather were accessible directly from these suggestion pages. The new site instead offers user-generated local recommendations.

“It’s personalized travel recommendations not just for cities, but also what you can do in cities,” WanderFly co-founder Christy Liu tells Mashable.

You’ll be familiar with the site’s format. Like many products that have launched in the last year, it works a lot like Pinterest. Users make boards for cities they’ve been to or are interested in exploring. Within each of their city boards, they add recommendations for specific venues. New content from the people who they are following is delivered in a Facebook-like feed and can easily be saved to their own boards.

When I see Tasting Table has recommended the Early Girl Eatery in Ashville, for instance, I might hit the Save icon attached to it. Since I don’t have an Ashviille board yet, Wanderfly automatically creates one for me and sticks an image-focused note about Early Girl within it.

In addition to user-specific city boards, there are also category city boards that collect recommendations for a given city from all users. Their content is based on factors such as what you like (via tags), who you’re following and what’s most popular.

Wanderfly hand-picked its beta testers for the new site, and they include well-known travel bloggers and brands such as The New York Times. Together they’ve created about 8,000 pieces of content.

Pinterest surely has much more content in its travel and places section, but it’s not built to plan a vacation. Wanderfly’s focus on travel discovery is worth the trip to another site.

More About: travel, wanderfly

For more Business coverage:


The Evolution of Animated GIFs [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 05:00 PM PST

GIFs have become a bit of an enigma — they are one of the oldest image formats used on the Web, yet if you ask anyone familiar with the old format, they’d likely not associate it with a short clip of a cat in a Godzilla suit knocking over a tower.

Throughout their 25 years of existence, GIFs have served a variety of purposes, from practicality to purely entertainment. How did such a vast, eclectic medium come to be?

The answer is in the newest episode of PBS’s web series Off Book, “Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium.”

As technology advanced, using GIFs became an outdated, less fashionable format. According to Patrick Davison of MemeFactory, the format began to increase in popularity again around 2007 or 2008.

“People started to realize that you can use GIFs for tons of different things,” says Davison. “And now that we’re in 2012 there’s more GIFs online, but you also have way more places to put them.”

Sites such as Reddit, Tumblr, WordPress and even Twitter are all, to some extent, content-curating sites that have created what Davison calls “post-modern GIFs.”

SEE ALSO: How Tumblr Rekindled the Art of Animated GIFs

“Humans really like repetition — we feel comfortable with it — and sometimes just the longer you watch something, the funnier it gets or it will actually change meaning,” says TopherChris, Tumblr’s community manager and editorial director.

“I think there’s other new artforms waiting to be discovered in there that we just haven’t figured out yet.”


Combining High-End Fashion With Old-School GIFs


One of the most obvious instances of a new art form given birth by the GIF format is the cinemagraph, a series of still photographs with subtle moving elements.

“I think there are opportunities with this hybrid medium to show people something they’ve never seen before, to have these moments that can just exist forever,” says Kevin Burg, who coined the term cinemagraph and co-created From Me To You with his partner, photographer Jamie Beck.

The two created a series of cinemagraphs featuring model Coca Rocha in Oscar de la Renta gowns, which Tumblr fashion director Rich Tong revealed at a conference in Paris.

Pamela Reed and Matthew Rader of Reed+Rader are another duo combining fashion editorial with the quirk of Internet culture. Both found their inspiration through memes and video games.

“The idea of art has changed, and we’ve always seen what we can get away with. It’s fun,” says Rader.


BONUS: Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg’s Cinemagraphs







Jamie Beck.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: cinemagraphs, features, GIFs, tumblr

For more Entertainment coverage:


Why The New iPad Did Not Blow My Mind

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 04:20 PM PST


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

This was supposed to be a bigger deal.

Don't get me wrong, the iPad New (you have a better name?) looks just as good as the Apple iPad 2. This is because it looks exactly the same.

You have to, as I did, turn on the iPad New to tell the difference. Granted, it's a big, spectacular difference — the screen is breathtaking. Similarly, evidence of other changes can be found deep inside the iPad New — in the chips, the camera, the cellular radios. All good, worthy updates, but none of it says ‘fundamentally different.’

The other product highlight? An Apple TV that, just like the iPad New, looks exactly the same as its predecessor (it adds 1080p support).

All this sameness has me worried.

SEE ALSO: Hands On with the New iPad: First Impressions [PICS]

Apple making an event out of a couple of upgrades is not without precedent. We need only look back to last October's iPhone 4s launch. There was another very well-thought-out product update that maintained all that was good (even great) about the first iPhone 4, but made it significantly better — without changing anything about the chassis.

The iPad New is the exact same kind upgrade. It even uses the iPhone 4S camera, not that there's anything wrong with that. iSight, as Apple is calling the upgraded camera (and as it used to call its peripheral webcam) brings excellent, high-quality photography and 1080p videography to the iPad platform. Those images look lovely on the so-high-def-you-can't-even-perceive-it-retina display.


Not So Different


Apple wasn't even willing to completely swap out the CPU. Instead of an A6 chip, we got an A5X. The update is necessary — there's no way you can run 3.1 million pixels and some of the cinematic effects I saw today on Infinity Blade: Dungeons without quad-core horsepower.

I wonder if Apple decided it would confuse people if they used a brand-new CPU while leaving the rest of the iPad in incremental upgrade land. Not that the A5X processor isn't new. It's certainly better than the A5, but you signal "new" with a new name. I see it as an update, or perhaps, a re-architecting.

The sad truth is it's becoming increasingly difficult for Apple to live up to the hype surrounding any event or product unveiling. I can see how that's unfair to the world's most valuable company. No one could ever live up to those expectations.

That said, it's been a while since we've seen completely new hardware or a product redesign from Apple (iPad 2 launched in January 2011). In the interim, I've attended two Apple product events that make me wonder if we're seeing some sort of strategic shift. Have we come so far in technology, especially industrial design, that Apple has no choice but to slow down?

It's obvious to me that most tablet manufacturers are running out of ways to differentiate their products. A good number of the tablets I saw in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress were indistinguishable from one another. At least the iPad New is recognizably, uniquely Apple. Perhaps Apple's next iPad design is so radical that it can't be accomplished in a year.

And what if dramatic change is what I want to see, but not necessarily what I want to use?


What Do I Really Want?


Prior to the Apple event, people had all sorts of ideas about what the new iPad would look like. It was going to be thinner, have an edge-to-edge screen, and, possibly, eschew the start button. Obviously, none of that happened.

In a way, I'm glad. I love the iPad's home button and think the iPad 2 is already thin and sleek enough. On the other hand, I was happy with the original iPad design and didn't know how it could get better until Apple showed me. I rely on Apple to surprise me with industrial design feats I never before imagined.

Instead, we have the iPad New (the iPad 4G is another reasonable name). It's a device I want to hold just as much as the iPad 2, but not more. The screen is a wonder, and that raw power, which I saw on display with the iPhoto app — and even more so with the Autodesk Sketchbook Ink vector drawing program — is very, very attractive.

But part of the appeal of any new Apple gadget has always been the take-your-breath-away looks.

I don't consider today a complete disappointment. As I said, the iPad New's updates are smart and on-target and Apple has already proven that you can have monumental success with an upgrade (I hold up iPhone 4S sales numbers as exhibit A). Keeping the price the same is savvy and repricing the iPad Old…er…I mean 2, is perhaps, for competitors, most noteworthy.

A $399, an iPad 2 with 16GB of storage is starting to move into Amazon Kindle Fire territory. If it weren't for the startling success of that 7-inch device, I bet Apple wouldn't even have bothered to continue the iPad 2 at any price.

Speaking of 7-inch, that was another wild guess that didn't pan out. At least on that score, I agree with Apple. If you like the iPad, you really don't need a smaller one. What I did need, though, was a little more of something truly brand new.

Come on Apple, dazzle me again. Maybe with the iPhone 5?


The New iPad Details Hit Apple.com




The new 9.7-inch iPad has 2048 x 1536-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel camera (with the same optics sensor from the iPhone 4S) and 1080p video recording. It is available March 16 in black and white, powered by A5X chip (with quad-core graphics) and supports 4G LTE networks. It's 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.4 pounds.

Wi-Fi only iPads cost $499 for 16 GB, $599 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB, while 4G versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Pre-orders start today, and the devices will be in stores March 16 in these 10 countries: U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Credit: Apple.com

Click here to view this gallery.


Apple iPad Event




Click here to view this gallery.


More Coverage of Apple’s iPad Event


More About: apple, ipad, LTE, trending, verizon


Will You Be Getting the New iPad? [POLL]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 03:50 PM PST


After weeks of speculation, the new iPad has landed. Apple announced the product along with an update to Apple TV today at an event in San Francisco.

The biggest surprise in today’s announcement? Perhaps the name: While nearly everyone expected the iPad 3 or the iPad HD (or possibly even the iPad 2S), it appears that Apple is content to keep it simple. The new iPad is just that: the iPad.

The new device did meet several other expectations, such as a retina display, 4G LTE capability, and an improved camera.

But did Apple improve its product enough to convince you to drop more than $500 on it? We want to know what you think. Take our poll and let us know in the comments why you’ll be lining up — or why you’d prefer to pass on Apple’s newest offering.





The New iPad Details Hit Apple.com




The new 9.7-inch iPad has 2048 x 1536-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel camera (with the same optics sensor from the iPhone 4S) and 1080p video recording. It is available March 16 in black and white, powered by A5X chip (with quad-core graphics) and supports 4G LTE networks. It's 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.4 pounds.

Wi-Fi only iPads cost $499 for 16 GB, $599 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB, while 4G versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Pre-orders start today, and the devices will be in stores March 16 in these 10 countries: U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Credit: Apple.com

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Gadgets, ipad, poll


How to Allow Subscribers on Facebook

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 03:25 PM PST


1. Account Settings




From your home or profile page, click on the drop-down menu at the top right and select "Account Settings."

Click here to view this gallery.

Facebook‘s Subscribe option allows you to share certain content with the wider public — without having to compromise your privacy.

Through the Subscribe function, you can post public updates you don’t mind sharing with the world, but keep other, more personal updates private to your friends and family.

At the moment, the option to allow subscribers is purely opt-in, so here we show you how to enable and manage this functionality.

SEE ALSO: How to Hide From Annoying Friends on Facebook Chat

Take a look through the gallery above for our simple walkthrough. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve enabled subscribers for your Facebook profile — and if so, why.

More About: Facebook, features, gallery, How-To, Social Media, tips and tricks


Facebook’s Plans for Gowalla Revealed

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 03:17 PM PST


So this is what Facebook has been doing with its Gowalla acquisition.

Josh Williams, the former CEO of Gowalla, has been working on a project since Facebook bought his company back in December: He is part of a team that has been developing an API that lets app developers integrate actions like status updates, photo and video-sharing, friend-tagging and checkins at various locations. Such data will ultimately fill out a user’s Timeline with “more detailed moments,” according to a blog post from the company on Wednesday.

How would that work in practice? In the post, Facebook describes a Foodspotting-like app that would let all your friends know what you’re eating. But, with the new functionality, you might also be able to tag Facebook friends sharing your meal.

Williams says that while that’s a good example of how the new integration might work, he’d like to see apps that are more aspirational in nature. “I haven’t seen a lot of exploration around ‘places I want to go in the future,’” Williams says, “or journalizing a trip from the past.” Williams says that fitness apps will also benefit from the new capability.

Of course, the goal is for Facebook to further insinuate itself into users’ lives and, via Timeline, provide a more complex portrait of you to advertisers on the network. But to do that, Facebook is relying on third parties to create apps. “The floodgates are open,” Williams says. “I can’t wait to see what [app developers] come up with.”

More About: apps, Facebook, gowalla


Hands On with the New iPad: First Impressions [PICS]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 02:56 PM PST


Photos on the New iPad





Images show up sharp and clear on the iPad's new Retina Display.

Click here to view this gallery.

So here’s what it looks like: an iPad 2 with a facelift.

Lest that sound like a small deal, let me clarify — a major facelift. Imagine Joan Rivers finally attained complete botox nirvana, her face a seamless high-definition sheen. Now imagine Joan Rivers as an iPad. You’re getting close.

After playing with the new iPad at the Apple launch event Wednesday, I am certain of three things. First, I am going to get heartily sick of calling this thing “the new iPad.” Secondly, the new retina display looks absolutely gorgeous in any app you care to name. And thirdly, not a single other thing about the device’s outward appearance has changed.

Home button? Check. Single speaker on the back? Check. Headphone port, volume and screen lock buttons in exactly the same place? Check.

Counting the iPhone 4S and Apple TV, this is the third Apple product launched under the tenure of Tim Cook that has not physically changed one bit. Either Apple’s legendary industrial designers are getting paid a whole lot to sit around doing nothing, or they are working on some seriously cool changes for next year’s model (the new new iPad?)

No doubt when Apple actually lets us compare the devices side by side — ie. when we buy one on launch day — we’ll really notice the 0.6 millimeters of extra thickness and 0.11 lb of extra weight. The new tablet did feel slightly heftier in my hands than I’m used to, which is a shame. The iPad 2 is already just a tad too heavy to hold in one hand for long periods of time.

As for the 4G speeds and the battery life, which Apple says is still in the 9-10 hour range: these claims will also require more extensive testing than Apple would allow in its hands-on area. We’re looking forward to playing battery-hogging games for 10 hours at a time to properly test it out.


All I Wanna Do Is Read


But what I can confirm is how incredibly gorgeous that resolution looks. You can’t tear your eyes away from it. Photos and videos are far more life-like. Games feel closer to reality, too. And books? With a retina display, books seem more attractive on the iPad than in any other format. And I’m not just comparing them to the Kindle, the Nook or the iPad 2; my frame of reference includes physical books, too.

I’ve built up a pretty extensive library of iBooks, and I’ve been enjoying blasting through them on the iPad 2. But after a while — say, an hour — the lower-resolution text starts to have an effect. I wouldn’t say my eyes get strained, exactly; it’s more of a restlessness, a desire to look at something else, that doesn’t happen with physical books.

I don’t have that problem with iBooks on the retina display of the iPhone 4S. But who wants to read a whole book on an iPhone? The iPad’s form factor is where it’s at, as far as we bookworms are concerned. Now I can get truly lost in a good ebook.

Sorry, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, you are going to have to up your game. The Kindle’s old e-ink screen isn’t nearly as readable as this, even in direct sunlight (and the Kindle Fire? Fuggeddaboutit.)

Obviously, this is all good news for the nascent iPad magazine industry. Not to mention the still-rumored category of shopping catalogs, which seems a no-brainer on the new iPad.

In short, reading just got real again.

What else would you like to know about the new iPad? What’s the first thing you’ll try when you get your hands on one? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, ipad, new ipad, retina display, trending


Shoot Asteroids With Your Eyes — in 3D!

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 02:24 PM PST

eye-asteroids-600

Remember that game we tried out a couple of months ago where you shoot asteroids with your eyes? The company behind the eye-tracking technology just unveiled the next version, which recreates the glorious destruction of atomizing space rocks, only this time in 3D.

Tobii, which developed the original game based on its eye-tracking tech, partnered with a company called SeeFront to create the game, EyeAsteroids 3D. If you recall, the original EyeAsteroids saw a user pilot a “planet,” hurtling through space and constantly bombarded with incoming meteors. The user shoots those rocks just by looking at them, occasionally piloting the planet to avoid radiation fields with head movements.

The 3D version adds depth to the experience, letting you gaze (and shoot at) asteroids in 3D space. Best of all, there’s no need to wear silly glasses since SeeFront’s 3D tech doesn’t require it. It also speaks to the sophistication of the eye-tracking technology, which is able to discern whether you’re focusing on a point in space at, say, 10 inches from your face instead of one further out.

However, when I played the original version of EyeAsteroids, I found that the eye-tracking tech had some difficulty keeping track of my eyes behind my powerful prescription glasses. Tobii has continued to refine the tech, however, recently shrinking the entire sensor unit into a device the size of a thick pen (see photo below).

Tobii-Eye-Tracker-600

That’s quite an improvement over previous iteratoins of the tech, which Tobii showed off last year in a rather bulky prototype laptop. While that was just a technology demonstration, now eye-tracking technology will be easier for manufacturers to integrate in products. While the company thinks consumer products are still a couple of years out, commercial solutions could appear as early as this year.

What might some of those solutions be? Tobii says the tech is applicable to devices from lie detectors to medical imaging to air traffic control. However, one of the first applications Tobii reps said they expect to see is in computer-aided design (CAD).

SEE ALSO: Here's What People Look at on Facebook Brand Pages

For the rest of us, we’ll have EyeAsteroids and EyeAsteroids 3D to keep us entertained until eye-tracking products start to arrive. You can see Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff play the original version at CES in the video below.

What do you think of eye tracking? Promising technology for the future, or doomed to be a niche product? Have your say in the comments.


More About: eye tracking, games, Tobii

For more Entertainment coverage:


Was the New Apple iPad Made Ethically?

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 01:42 PM PST


Apple mania took over the interwebs on Wednesday morning as the company unveiled its latest iPad.

In addition to the roar of excitement, the activist watchdog group, “SumOfUs” called on Apple to release employees’ time card data from the last four months to see if workers in China were forced into grueling and illegal overtime schedules.

SumOfUs Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman spoke with Mashable on Wednesday morning. She cited the New York Times’ story from January that reported employees at an Apple factory in China were awoken from slumber to work overnight shifts in order to make last-minute changes to the iPad 2. That article was the catalyst for this particular petition, she said, but SumOfUs has targeted Apple and its working conditions in China since the organization launched in late November 2011.

She says Apple’s hiring of the Fair Labor Association is a public relations move, or “whitewashing” as she called it.

“It is a PR exercise, not an actual investigation,” she said. “The head of the FLA was giving interviews one day after he arrived — he didn’t interview any workers. It’s clear anything they release will be calculated.”

SEE ALSO: Fair Labor Association Investigates Apple's Chinese Manufacturing Partners

This response doesn’t fix the problem, “but it’s cheap,” she said. Apple will have to spend money or change their practices in order to actually make a difference. — “Apple’s going to have to allow it’s suppliers to have a slightly bigger profit margin,” she added.

Last year, Apple’s profit margin was more than 30 percent, while Foxconn (Apple’s most notorious factory) had a 1.5 percent profit margin, Bloomberg reported. Stinebrickner-Kauffman said Foxconn’s profit margin is actually more profitable than a lot of factories in Asia, but still not enough for suppliers to follow Apple’s and the FLA’s code of conduct.

“The other thing they’ll (Apple) have to realize is they can’t make last minute changes and expect their suppliers to hold to their timeline,” she said.

Stinebrickner-Kauffman said she’s an iOS device-user herself and like many folks with Apple devices, doesn’t want to be complacent while accusations of unfair working conditions persist about Apple’s factories in China.

The FLA said the conditions at Foxconn are better than other Chinese factories. It’s also been said that the suicide rate in China is higher than at the Foxconn factories. However, Stinebrickner-Kauffman points out that the suicides we hear about at Foxconn are just the reported ones.

The petition has not yet been emailed to supporters and has already garnered more than 130,000 signatures. Stinebrickner-Kauffman said she thinks Apple will hear the message loud-and-clear, even if they don’t acknowledge it.

“Apple doesn’t like to admit it,” she said. “But there have been successful NGO campaigns against Apple.”

Green My Apple, a campaign by Greenpeace was one of them, she said. It spurred Apple to change its recycling practices and restrict or ban certain toxic chemicals. Apple called the program, “A Greener Apple.”

SumOfUs was launched in late November with the goal of help organize consumers to push companies to be more sustainable and responsible.

Are you going to buy the new iPad or will you wait until Apple hands over employees’ time cards? Are you going to sign the petition? Have you stopped purchasing Apple products because you don’t want to support its overseas labor practices? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.


More Coverage of Apple’s iPad Event


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, alexeys

More About: apple, china, ethical, factories, Foxconn, human rights, ipad, overseas labor, Tablet


How Your Business Can Get the Most From SXSW

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 01:31 PM PST


Sam Decker is founder and CEO of Mass Relevance and former CMO of Bazaarvoice. A licensed Twitter partner, Mass Relevance integrates real-time social content experiences for media and brands through a hosted platform.

What are you doing at SXSW Interactive to help your business? 



Most of the impact you can get from SXSW comes from rigorous preparation. For instance, pre-release your product, set up meetings, and plan effective gatherings with clients and prospects.

Even at this late stage, plan event and post-event strategies to maximize SXSW momentum.



First, it's important to recognize that SXSW is a festival, which is different than a tradeshow, summit or conference. More than 20,000 attendees gather in Austin, TX where they’ll encounter a head-spinning velocity of parties, panels, tweets, pitches and food. As such, you may feel that surviving hangovers and food trucks sums up a successful SXSW experience. On the other hand, if you’re attending for business, you can do better.

SEE ALSO: 7 Hot Apps to Watch at SXSW 2012



Because it's unlikely you'll have the visibility of Twitter or Foursquare when they launched at SXSW, target specific people you want to meet — prospects, clients, partners and recruits. Focus on ways to connect with and meaningfully impact these people. 



With those goals in mind, here are a few tips to make your trip to Austin count.


1. Be SXSW Socially Active




Announce to prospects, customers and partners (multiple times) that you plan to attend SXSW. If you typically share this type of news on one social network, expand your distribution this week. Share tips, observations, funny SXSW pictures or stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. 




2. Create a Command Center at the Office




Maybe you and a colleague are going to SXSW, leaving the rest of the team behind. It's difficult to stay on top of calls and communication at SXSW, when you're always on the go.

Therefore, implement a central command back at the office to help research and coordinate your activities. Ask colleagues to keep an eye on social networks for relevant prospects and networking opportunities; then ask them to reach out and coordinate introductory meetings for you. Designate a couple of go-to meeting spots, such as lobbies of nearby hotels or a major sponsor booth on the first floor of the convention hall.


3. Party for Business


Attend the parties where you’ll have the best chances of actually talking to the people that matter, or where you know the hosts, who can introduce you to attendees. Find partners hosting parties that have similar clients. Consider smaller parties and venues that may not be as loud, allowing you to network more effectively. When you get to a party, don't spend all your time with your colleagues! Divide up to have more meaningful conversations.




4. Leverage Partners and Austin Friends




Leverage partners who have something cool going on at SXSW, as well as your connections in Austin. Hang with partners and friends that are more connected than you — introductions will come.

If you know a startup with offices close to the convention center, perhaps you could meet clients there (a quiet place). Or maybe a partner who has similar client base will allow you to invite joint client to its suite?

My company rented a suite complete with food, drinks, WiFi, massage chair, SXSW "survival kits" and a big table for meetings. I spent less time running around from meeting to meeting and more time in the suite, where clients gladly flocked to our "oasis."


5. Invite Your VIPs Along


Do you have invites to private parties or VIP gatherings? Do these events allow you to bring a +1? Offer the invite to key people with whom you want to meet. Grabbing lunch by yourself or with colleagues? Use the opportunity to ask a client to join. If you're getting a pedicab, can you offer a prospect a ride?

SEE ALSO: 22 SXSW Panels You Can't Pass Up This Year


6. Make Your Meetings Memorable




Everybody is doing something to stand out, which means no one is standing out. The client you plan to meet with is also meeting with 50 other people. Therefore, it’s vital that your interactions with prospects, clients and consumers are relevant.  



First, get your elevator pitch down and make it compelling. Highlight things your future clients need to share with others back at the office, for instance, what competitors are doing. Keep the conversation light and fun (matching the atmosphere). Make it personal by telling stories or taking a picture with them at a landmark.

If you give products away, make sure they’re useful or cool, like a mini survival kit, something they’ll access throughout the show and after. And give them something to write down, like a URL to a demo site or a download.




7. Make Your Product SXSW Relevant




Think about what people would need and want during or after SXSW. Can your technology or service help them? Last year, GroupMe and Hurricane Party launched to help people stay in touch with colleagues and find where friends were gathering for SXSW.

At this late stage, could you provide useful pro-bono service to a partner? Showcase your product in a way that's relevant to SXSW.


8. Meet, Greet and Share Your Objectives




SXSW has the networking “vibe” that encourages meeting interesting people. If you don't have something going on, actively introduce yourself to others. Prepare a few sentences to explain your business, your objectives and the type of people you want to meet. You never know who you'll run into who can later become the perfect connection. 




9. Challenge the Team


When attending events with salespeople or colleagues, propose challenges. At SXSW, come up with fun ways to encourage meaningful networking. For instance, award a prize to the person who can earn the most business cards.




10. Fast Follow Up


During the event, share relevant conversations back with the team. Then immediately follow up with contacts to send information, share pictures, make introductions, schedule meetings or set up demos. The more effectively you follow up with press, prospects and partners, the better chances you have for gaining traction. 



“Money and time are two sides of the same coin.” Meaningful networking at events like SXSW accelerates brand interest and buzz. Then partners execute, prospects sign and customers buy. While you’re executing a job well done, enjoy the SXSW festivities!

Images courtesy of Merrick Ales, JoJo Marion, Earl McGehee

More About: Business, Marketing, networking, sxsw, sxsw 2012

For more Business coverage:


Warner Bros. Offers In-Store DVD-to-Cloud Service [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 01:18 PM PST


Film giant Warner Bros. introduced an in-store option to turn physical copies of movies into cloud-based digital files rather than have people do it themselves.

Warner Bros. President Kevin Tsujihara announced the “disc-to-digital” program on Wednesday, saying the initiative is a convenient way to convert existing DVD and Blu-ray libraries. The company notes a large part of future movie sales will be in digital file form. But, before we say goodbye to DVDs and Blu-rays, officials say in-store DVD-to-cloud conversions is a bridge to the inevitable.

“We’re leading industry efforts to launch services so consumers can convert libraries easily, safely and at reasonable prices,” he said, announcing the initiative at Morgan Stanley technology, media and telecom conference in San Francisco.

Some critics are not happy. Prime product naysayer Public Knowledge went as far to say “Warner Bros. embarrasses self, everyone with new ‘Disc-to-Digital’ program.” The organization is fighting for consumers to keep rights to copies of their own purchased DVDs.

The non-profit public interest group created a graphic showcasing the inconvenience of an in-store only option to create a mobile file of a DVD. Warner Bros. process would involve this: “Have DVD, find shop, drive to shop, pay for movie again, find clerk, hope it works, drive home, want, hope machine works.” As opposed to the traditional: “Have DVD, make a copy, play it.”

SEE ALSO: How Setting the Cloud Free Could Change the Internet Forever

There’s no word on pricing plans for cloud conversions, according to the L.A. Times.

Warner Bros. is hoping to lure consumers away from pirated DVDs online and on the streets with the new product.

The initiative will take place in parts. The first phase will allow DVD and Blu-ray owners to take their hardware into stores for conversion (think: CD to MP3). Online retailers — Amazon.com for example — will soon be able to email digital copies of movies to customers.

Warner Bros. says it was trying to appeal to people boosting large DVD collections and mentioned that a huge market for digital in-store conversion. U.S. consumers have bought more than 10 billion DVDs plus another 10 billion purchased internationally.

What do you think of this method for converting films to digital files? Do you think people should be able to make copies of their movies?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, dearsomeone

More About: blu-ray, cloud storage, dvd, warner bros

For more Entertainment coverage:


Apple TV Update Coming to Older Devices

Posted: 07 Mar 2012 01:04 PM PST


Fear not Apple TV fans, the second generation device is getting a big software update later today.

Apple announced its third-generation Apple TV at today’s event in San Francisco. The new Apple TV features the same physical dimensions as the second generation Apple TV but supports 1080p video.

Aside from 1080p, the biggest new features for the Apple TV comes by way of a new software update. This update not only freshens up the interface, it adds a host of new iCloud features.

Second-generation Apple TV owners will be able to download this software update later today to bring iCloud goodness to the device. This will add support for iTunes Match as well as iTunes in the Cloud support for movies.

This means that users can now stream previously purchased feature films on the Apple TV (or in iOS or iTunes).

Sadly, if you want 1080p video support, you’ll need to an third-generation Apple TV. Those will be available on March 15, and you can pre-order now.

Does the new Apple TV update sate your appetite or will you buy a third generation device? Let us know!


Apple iPad Event




Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Apple TV, apple tv 2, software update

For more Entertainment coverage:



Back to the top