Turn Any YouTube Video Into A GIF By Just Adding “GIF” To The URL

the freshness

Want to turn something on YouTube into a GIF, but don’t want to futz with downloading third-party apps or digging around for an online converter?

Here’s a handy, easy to remember trick: just add “GIF” to the beginning of the URL. After “www.” and before “youtube.com”

Like so:


So, for example, you’d turn:




and hit enter. Tada!

To be clear, this isn’t an official YouTube tool (though I’d still argue that YouTube really, really ought to build one) — so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work forever , particularly if YouTube’s legal team gets too bummed about the use of their trademark right in the domain. This is a side project by the team behind the super GIF-centric messaging app Glyphic.

One catch: in the current build, you can set the start time and GIF duration, but you can’t get super precise about it. If you want frame-by-frame control for that sweet, sweet perfectly timed loopage, you’ll probably want something like GIFGrabber or GIFBrewery

[Via HackerNews]

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What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

Most great businesses need to go though a moment of snatching victory from the jaw of defeat. Apple lost the PC race, only to innovate and win with portable music players and then phones over the last decade. Intel’s main business was selling RAM chips in the 80s until they rapidly lost market-share and pivoted to focus on commercial microprocessors as the age of the PCs started booming.

Aereo can turn the fame it gained from its lost Supreme Court case into a vibrant (and legal!) business by becoming a hardware company.

Earlier in the summer, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that Aereo, the free over-the-air broadcast TV service, violated the Copyright Act. Shortly after, the company suspended its service and has since been trying to stay alive.

It’s now been over a month since Aereo’s last communication with the public about its attempts in lower court. While Aereo seems to still be on a hopeless mission to “protect” your antenna, it’s missing a huge opportunity to continue to innovate the television industry with the brand equity they built through their Supreme Court fight.

Misunderstanding demand

aereo 730x280 What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

When the Supreme Court heard Aereo’s case in April, the company rose from obscurity and ended up on the front page of major news outlets. Aereo’s major appeal was never just the ability to access over-the-air TV content, but the ability to easily DVR it to view across devices in the cloud. By the time Aereo had lost, it didn’t talk much about the consumer demand for cloud DVR technology.

Parks Associates, the International Market Research firm recently released a report showing that “over 45 percent of US pay-TV subscribers find cloud DVR technology very appealing.” The research also pointed out that the Aereo case “left licensing for cloud DVR rights largely unaffected,” essentially paving the way for innovation to happen.

Glenn Hower, the lead research analyst on the report tells The Next Web that they launched this research after “talking with technology providers and TV service providers,” who explained that “there was a lot of interest in cloud DVR technology and its potential.”

Hower says the report found that the benefits of cloud DVR include “a better customer experience with expanded recording space and multichannel recording capabilities, and most importantly that there is a consumer desire and demand for these features.”

After Aereo lost, other obscure companies started gaining attention as consumers and journalists scrambled to highlight replacements. Here’s what Aereo should be doing based on the success of these other companies.

Meet a company that’s already doing a legal version of Aereo

Mohu, a North Carolina-based startup that launched in 2011 has made a name for itself by providing TV watchers with high definition indoor antennas. The aftermath of the Aereo case has continued to help its business.

sky What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

“What Aereo has done is really to heighten the awareness that over-the-air exists and that always leads to more antenna sales for us,” Mohu CEO Mark Buff tells The Next Web. “What we found is that most people we talk to on the street are unaware about over-the-air, our focus is to increase that awareness.”

The company’s success as an antenna provider has recently has allowed the team to develop more products for the cord-cutting movement. It recently launched “Mohu Channels,” which allows viewers to turn any website or app into a channel. There’s also a built-in DVR functionality for up to 30 minutes, and Buff says that there will probably be more DVR functionality on the company’s roadmap.

“If I were [Aereo], I would definitely be looking into alternatives to leverage that demand,” Buff adds.

DVRing free over-the-air TV in a post-Aereo environment

A major option on the market to easily DVR free over-the-air TV is Simple.TV. Originally a Kickstarter funded in 2012, Simple.TV allows you to use its device, an antenna and a hard drive to easily DVR content and access that content across platforms.

Simple.TV partners with SiliconDust, a TV tuner company, to build its hardware. Then, as a company, it focuses on the software and services. CEO Mark Ely describes the service it provide as “having your own personal Hulu” that complements devices like Roku and Apple TV. 

Ely agrees that “there’s been a bit of a renaissance with the antenna” since Aereo came into the spotlight.

“What we’ve come in and said is our box will get you all the DVR functionality and place shifting functionality and the on-demand access the same way you’d be able to access Netflix or Hulu.”

Simple.TV has also seen an increase in sales as a result of the Aereo case. “We definitely had a lift of sales in the wake of Aereo,” Ely says. “Because of the Aereo news, consumers are realizing that ‘Wow, this is an option, let me see who else can do this.’” Simple.TV has also taken advantage of the situation by offering a special deal to Aereo customers on the top of its homepage.

Use your own computer as an Aereo replacement

One of the oldest ways to DVR free over-the-air TV has been through TV tuner devices that let you connect an antenna or cable box to your computer. Elgato, a German based company founded in 1992, used to be one of the main manufacturers of these devices for Mac.

In the last three years, Elgato has actually pivoted to sell to the gaming world and only has a few TV products left, including the EyeTV HD which allows you to watch and record TV on a Mac. The company’s Director of PR Lars Felber tell us that “watching TV on Mac/PC just isn’t a common thing anymore for most people.” 

elgato eyetv 730x410 What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

Felber also pointed out a big difference in the European and US markets when it comes to free over-the-air. In Europe, he said that you are able to receive tons of “free channels a lot easier, with a tiny antenna, and even on mobile tuners that connect to smartphones.” However, “mobile TV in the US is very limited in terms of channel variety and coverage.” 

While this option seems to be the least popular and least likely to take off, it’s still an extremely easy replacement to something like Aereo which provided the kind of limited variety Felber mentioned.

Why isn’t Aereo capitalizing on all this opportunity in the market place?

The truth is, it just might be. As the company prepares for its next chapter, CEO Chet Kanojia has yet to comment on our story. 

As Aereo continues to let weeks and months pass, consumers will quickly forget about the service. Even with its hefty court bills, Aereo’s $92 million in funding compared to Simple.TV’s $5.7 million and Mohu’s $144,000 should position it to continue make a big impact on the cord-cutting market.

Aereo could probably even acquire either company for a fraction of what it spent in court. At the very least, partnering with a Mohu or Simple.TV or creating an entire new service that competes with one or the other seems to be a lot better option that disappearing from the spotlight. 

Read next: Why the UK’s new local TV stations are doomed to fail

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Three Trends That Will Make A Difference In Mobile Payments

Editor’s note: Alberto Jimenez is director of mobile payments at IBM. Jimenez was most recently Director of Global Mobile Solutions at Citigroup.

In the summer of 2008, I was in Paris delivering a mobile payments presentation to the CEO of a French bank. At the end of the meeting, he asked me when we would see more than 50 percent of retail payments transactions in developed markets go through mobile. With unbending confidence, I responded that within the next five years the majority of consumer transactions in developed markets would originate from mobile devices. I was wrong.

Those with a history in the mobile payments industry know that it has been a slow (and mostly disappointing) journey. But now, reflecting on the current ecosystem forces at play, I believe we find ourselves surrounded by a set of market trends that can finally give mobile payments a viable path to scale.

Over the years, formidable companies have failed in this space. Not because they went bankrupt, but because they are now executing on significantly less ambitious visions. These visions include a focus on smaller market niches, and not going after the replacement of plastic transactions at the point of sale, which remain the lion’s share of transaction volume in developed markets.

When debating the future of mobile payments, there’s a fairly common argument that “it is not about payments, it’s about commerce.” This is the belief that mobile payments adoption isn’t just about the actual movement of funds, but more so focused on the broader mobile shopping experience. For the most part, this argument is accurate. However, it misses the point of payments as the enabling platform for monetizing new retail industry engagement services — commerce — in an increasingly mobile world. These two ideas don’t conflict with one another; but secure, frictionless payments, as a standalone capability is simply necessary to succeed in the emerging retail industry reality.

Of the multiple, easily identifiable trends spurring growth in mobile payments, these three have the greatest potential to drive mobile adoption at both ends of the transaction – for the consumer and for the merchant.

1. Services Before and After the Transaction

Continuing on the payments versus commerce debate, at this point in the mobile payments journey, it is clear that neither consumers nor merchants will adopt mobile payments simply for the payments portion of it. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the way we initiate and accept payments today. However, there are a number of activities that take place before and after the transaction that can deliver tremendous value to the consumer and the merchant, both in terms of relevance and the ability to drive top-line growth, respectively.

These activities include innovative, data analytics-driven ways to discover new products and services, save money via price-comparison tools, and deliver immediate gratification using location-based services, just to name a few. And this is only possible because of mobile, since the number of relevant data points created through mobile-engagement is many times higher than the ones created using plastic to complete transactions.

2. Broad Usage of “Cards on File”

The “cards on file” service used by consumer businesses to better serve repeat customers has existed for a long time. This of course made sense for frequent client-merchant interactions and not for casual (one-off) transactions – for example, I wouldn’t want the taxi that I took this morning to keep my card on file.

With the emergence of app ecosystems that make mobile the lead channel for a multitude of services in categories as diverse as music streaming and share economy services like non-hotel travel accommodations, “cards on file” has emerged as a key enabler of transactions being initiated on the mobile device. This not only makes payments seamless, but also transparent to the consumer.

But beyond digital ecosystem enablement, many of the online commerce characteristics can be brought to the physical retail environment via the same tool. Once the visions of in-store mobile engagement become a reality, “cards on file” will become a central driver for mobile payments in the offline world as well. That may sometimes not even be in the hands of merchants, but rather in those of centralized repositories that expose APIs to retailers looking to bill/collect from consumers.

3. Increased Security

Security in payments used to be a hygiene factor, something that you expect but that didn’t create differentiated value. However, after multiple, widely covered sensitive data breaches, security has become a value proposition in itself.

Industry surveys continue to rank security concerns high on the list of reasons preventing consumers (and merchants) from adopting mobile payments. Most of us know that some of these concerns are perceptions rather than factual reasons – everything else being equal, mobile transactions are by definition safer than plastic transactions.

Industry-wide initiatives, such as tokenization, have the potential to significantly increase the level of security and subsequently the general public perception about payments — specifically the kind initiated on mobile devices.

My cautious optimism today is much different from six years ago when I stood in front of that CEO. We now, as an industry, have a much better understanding of how to create relevant value propositions – for both consumer and merchant. The growth of mobile payments adoption can’t be based on emphasizing convenience. In order to truly influence changes in behavior, we must focus on building consistent, rewarding user experiences and opportunities for revenue growth.


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Here are 11 of the first services to use Product Hunt’s API

Product Hunt, the increasingly popular website that helps you discover new apps and services, is about to grow its presence on the Web after it began allowing other services to plug into its treasure trove of information.

Founder Ryan Hoover last month announced plans for an API, which allows other developers and software makers to build services that make use of Product Hunt’s data. Now the switch has been hit, letting the first services in.

Here are 11 of the initial group that you can tinker with — many of these previously scraped the site for information, so will perform better using the API:

  • Huntlytics: simple Product Hunt analytics for products
  • Product Hunt Roulette: a StumbleUpon-like discovery service for navigating ProductHunt
  • Producthunter Chrome Extension: serves up the most recent entries in a new tab
  • The News: an iOS app that combines Hacker News, Designer News, and Product Hunt
  • Panda: lets you browse Hacker News, Designer News, Product Hunt, and other resources in a single place
  • The Scoop: like Panda, this brings Hacker News, Designer News, and Product Hunt together in one place
  • Yo PRODUCT HUNTED: sends a Yo update when an entry clocks 150 upvotes
  • Roost for Product Hunt: sends a notification when an entry hits 100 upvotes
  • Product Hunt Alert: sends an SMS if a specific domain is mentioned on Product Hunt
  • HunterData: a Product Hunt leaderboard
  • Spear: Product Hunt command line interface

The API isn’t open to all at this point, but around 300 developers have gotten access. Others who are interested are invited to request early access here.

In his post, Hoover admitted that the move is scary. “I worry people will abuse the site or create something that “steals” engagement… we also lose the ability to measure how people are using Product Hunt,” he wrote, though he recognizes opening up enables huge opportunities since “Product Hunt is all about inspiring creation and entrepreneurship.”

Product Hunt actually hired the developer behind the Chrome Extension — so it’s fair to say that this is a good way to catch the companies eye. The company is planning its first hackathon, which Hoover tells me will take place in the coming weeks. That’s more evidence that the team is passionate about working closely with the developer community.

The company is currently going through the hallowed Y Combinator accelerator program. That, coupled with its intention to work with the developer community and its existing successes, suggests that its service has a bright future.

➤ Product Hunt

Related: The 7 (mostly free) tools Product Hunt used to build its early-stage community

And also: The 7 best Product Hunt lists you didn’t even know existed

Dolphin wants to be more than a window to the Web – it plans to be a channel for all your content

What Aereo should do to stay alive and innovate the TV industry

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OKPanda Takes In Another $1.6M For Its English Language Learning App For Asia

OKpanda, whose language learning app targets the lucrative English language learning market in Asia, especially focusing on Japan, has closed a new $1.6 million seed funding round.

The new funding round was led by Resolute Ventures and includes Japanese investors East Ventures and Beenos, plus prior investors Innovation Endeavors, Kapor Capital, 500 Startups and angels including Matthew Romaine (Founder, Gengo) and Jonathan Swanson (Founder, Thumbtack).

OKPanda closed a $1.4 million round back in February, also led by Resolute Ventures, so the new seed funding brings its total raised to date to $3 million. The service aims to make it easier for Asian English language learners to master tricky pronunciations by offering conversational English practice — including by connecting them to human tutors in real-time.

The startup was co-founded at the end of 2012 by serial entrepreneur and app developer Adam Gries and Nir Markus. Gries said the new financing is the result of “strong inbound interest” in OKPanda after strong growth in Japan this year.

Its flagship OKPanda English Conversation app has hit 450,000 users since launching in Japan in December 2013, according to Gries, while its new Everyday English app has passed 125,000 registered users three weeks after launch. The main app simulates conversations, allowing the user to take either side of a conversation and participate in it to practice grammar, vocab and speech. While the Everyday English app is focused on listening to conversational English to improve pronunciation.

“There are not many high quality, deep, mobile English learning apps,” says Gries. “Most being simple flashcards and games with little depth or variety. This is an opportunity to build up an audience. With our apps released only last December we have already reached 600K installs in Japan and iOS alone — this is very big in Japan, a key/huge English learning market.”

“To give you a sense for the magnitude of the industry, at any given time there are ~1.1 million people in Japan who go to English Conversation Schools (Eikaiwa), spending an average of between 200/month,” he adds.

OKPanda’s business model aims to undercut that average, with a monthly subscription — of between $30 and $100 — for which the learner will get access to all its digital services and varying levels of access to the live, human instruction.

Beyond cost, Gries argues OKPanda is unique in offering a combination of self-learning features, including speech recognition tech, coupled with live human instruction. It currently uses Asian messaging app Line to deliver the real-time English instruction —  from Filipino teachers — via instant messaging. But is also planning to expand to add a live video conversation option soon.OKPanda

“In our system users can use the same app/s to practice English throughout the day on their own and at any point they feel ready, they can hop into a live instant messaging or (soon) video conversation with a live teacher. Tying the two together is critical because it allows the teacher to reinforce the exact items the student has been focused on and/or is struggling with,” says Gries.

“Also, it creates a human connection that many users seek and which helps them stick to their learning goals. Finally, all of the experts we have consulted with agree that live human interaction is key to to reach language fluency.”

Gries argues that other language learning apps and services such as Duolingo, Babbel and Busuu only support self-learning, while rival language learning services such as Open English and Tutor Group focus on digital curricula and live teaching but don’t extend their services onto a mobile app — hence the claim that OKPanda offers a unique combination.

The startup pegs the overall market size for learning English in Japan at $6bn to $8bn per year — but it also sees scope to expand its service to other key English markets in Asia in time, with China, Korea and Taiwan in its sights.

Read more from the original source: OKPanda Takes In Another $1.6M For Its English Language Learning App For Asia

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