NVIDIA brought its new Shield handheld gaming system to Google I/O this year and showed off a near-production device. The Shield made its debut at CES this year, surprising most since it’s a consumer handheld device from a company that generally makes internal components. But it has some neat tricks up its sleeve, including a Tegra 4 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of internal storage.
The Shield units available at I/O this week were all running Android and showing off Android games with hardware controller support, and none were demoing the PC game streaming that NVIDIA said would be coming to Shield as a beta when it comes to retail in June.
My experience with the NVIDIA was limited to just a few games, including the Epic Citadel demo that always gets trotted out to demonstrate amazing graphics capabilities on mobile devices. There were also a couple of playable cart racers in action, and all of the above performed well and really showed that the hardware is capable of rendering high-quality video smoothly and without any apparent effort. For a device that’s essentially a smartphone without the actual phone powers, but with more physical buttons for $349, that’s an important achievement to be able to claim.
Shield does its Android job well, and the hardware feels great to these gamers’ hands. Buttons are slightly clicky and the ergonomics are solid, and the thing doesn’t take up too much more space than an Xbox controller when the screen is folded down and it’s in travel mode. There’s mini-HDMI, which was outputting gameplay to a small HD television, and a micro-USB slot for charging. The onboard screen boasts “retinal” quality 294 PPI pixel density, which means video and games look silky smooth.
Maybe the best part is that NVIDIA has gone for a pretty near stock Android Jelly Bean experience, which a rep from the company told me was a conscious choice they made after first trying a more involved widget overlay that ended up making for a much less pleasant experience. Navigating the stock Android with hardware controls (you can also always use the touchscreen) is also surprisingly intuitive.
All that said, this is a strange device with a market that’s probably going to be pretty niche. Really, it almost seems like a reference device designed to show off the power of Tegra, but NVIDIA is actually shipping the thing, so those of us like me who actually have a hankering for this kind of hardware will really be able to buy it even if it doesn’t become a runaway success.
Continue reading here: NVIDIA’s Shield Mobile Gaming System Feels Like The Way Android Games Should Be Played
Get ready for a whole lot more Pebble. The smartwatch company just announced several software enhancements for the Pebble and a $15M Series A led by Charles River Ventures. Pebble is not going to sit around, scared of iWatch rumors. They’re plowing forward on their own accord and committed to providing the best platform possible for developers and consumers.
“We are pledging to support the developers hacking on Pebble,” stated Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told me in an interview. “We want to make the Pebble the go-to place for developers.” And with that the company released its first SDK last month and is following it up today with several big improvements.
The cash injection will be used to increase the company’s software engineering team’s headcount and allow the company to scale to meet still-growing customer demand. CVS’ Partner George Zachery is joining Pebble’s board of directors, a move that excites Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky.
“George is the one that shared our vision of wearable computing,” Eric told me in a chat this morning. Several angels also participated in the round, but Eric indicated that Charles River Ventures funded the majority of the Series A. This round of funding joins the $375k the company previously received from four angel investors, including Paul Buchheit, a partner at Y Combinator, and Tim Draper of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. And don’t forget about the $10.3M Pebble raised on Kickstarter.
“The tremendous response we received from Kickstarter backers validated our belief in the value of a smartwatch as a wearable computer, but also in the value an open platform brings to truly personalizing the watch to their daily activities”, said Migicovsky, Pebble’s founder in a released statement today. “This new investment will help us build out the Pebble development ecosystem and deliver on Pebble’s extraordinary potential.”
Pebble is still working on fulfilling the 85,000 orders placed on Kickstater. To date 70,000 have reached early supporters. “It’s pretty crazy thinking there are 70,000 Pebbles out there,” Eric told me proudly. “Tens of thousands” of additional orders have been placed, Eric said.
The company is aiming for retail availability in four to six months.
Pebble also announced several software enhancements for its smartwatch today. The SDK, which the company appropriately calls the PebbleKit, enables third party apps to send and receive data from the smartwatch.
This two-way communication is a huge step forward for the smartwatch, allowing the watch to display a large variety of information including weather and sports scores or even act as a remote control for the phone itself. Until now, apps were limited to basic functions like just display a watch face or displaying a simple game of snake.
Pebble also released the Pebble Sports API, enabling developers to build GPS-enabled smartwatch apps similar to the RunKeeper app announced a couple of weeks back.
Since releasing its initial SDK back in April, Pebble states the kit was downloaded over 8,000 times, resulting in over 5,000 unique watchapps with 300,000 installs during the last month. Owners are clearly hungry for more Pebble features.
The Pebble was supposed to usher in a new era of productivity by strapping a communication device to our wrist, but the initial feature set was limited even with the first SDK release. However, Pebble is keeping at it and today’s funding announcement and software development release should result in a big harvest of fresh apps.
“Everyone is talking about wearable devices,” Eric explained. “We’re very happy that Pebble is a platform people can build on today.”
Wearables is the next big thing. There’s no denying that. Even if Apple skips the iWatch device, Google Glass and others are pushing forward the thought of wearable computing. But the Pebble is here today and developers have latched onto the platform, outing custom watch faces, games, and apps. With the Pebble, the future is here now.
Silverpop, the marketing tech company that announced $25 million in new funding last month, is announcing a new feature to help customers adapt to all the different ways that people are opening their emails.
The feature, called Email Insights, accomplishes three main tasks, the company says. First, it allows them to preview how an email will look in up to 30 different apps across multiple devices. (It’s working with a company called Litmus to create those previews.) Adam Steinberg, Silverpop’s director of emerging apps, said that there was previously a lot of uncertainty and guesswork in the process — for many marketers, the testing process previously consisted of emailing people they knew with different devices then asking, “How does it look?”
Next, Silverop provides analytics about which devices and applications are being used to open those emails. Customers can then use that data to create emails that are customized based on a user’s “preferred device.”
“The marketer wants to know which type of device their customers are using so it can give them a device-centric marketing message,” Steinberg said.
For example, he told me that if an online retailer is launching a new iPhone app, instead of sending the same promotional message to everyone on their mailing list, they could create a special message for people who usually read those emails on an iPhone, with a direct link to download the app.
Email Insights is now available to all Silverpop customers with pricing that starts at $40 per month.
Thank you, Newt Gingrich, for this YouTube gem; I think America needed a good laugh. Last week, the former Republican presidential front-runner and moon colony-enthusiast called upon the wisdom of the Internet to come up with a term for an Internet-connected phone, apparently not knowing that they are already called “smartphones”.
If we had told you that Newt Gingrich’s “multimedia production company” had made a YouTube video titled “We’re Really Puzzled”, it would have been too ridiculous to fabricate. We cannot make this up.
“You probably think it’s a cell phone,” said Gingrich. “But think about it, if it’s taking pictures, it’s not a cell phone…This device, is something new and different. I’ve been calling it a handheld computer.
It gets better: “So having failed for several days to come up with an adequate term for the device we call a “cell phone,” we want to open the discussion up to you. Let us know in the comments what you think we should name it, and we’ll feature the best ones in a future newsletter.”
The YouTube comments are priceless:
–”i reached out to laurent too. Issa is participating in Bloomberg’s march for immigration
–”Smartphone? How about smartphone. Oh hey, look, we already call it that.”
–”I suggest calling it a “horseless telephone.”
–”There’s a book on the shelf behind him titled “Social Marketing”. LOL”
Ironically, Gingrich made a rare bipartisan endorsement of the wonky open government book, Citizenville, from California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. “Every single conservative in this country should read it,” said Gingrich. Citizenville is arguably the most thorough account of government technology to date, and, most importantly, mentions “smartphones” 16 times. I agree, every conservative should read it.
I will leave readers with a more sober and thoughtful idea to mull over: these people want to run our government?!?!
Read the original: Watch Newt Gingrich’s Embarrassingly Hilarious Video On Renaming Cell Phones
Airbnb released an update to its Android app today to help property owners and hosts better manage their listings. With the release, hosts can handle all the steps prior to selecting guests for their home, while also keeping track of when it’s available.
Previously these mobile features were only available for iOS devices. However, with only 5 percent of its total active hosts using Android devices, Airbnb could be hoping that because of this update, existing Android users will find it more appealing and new device users will sign up.
Airbnb says that when it tested these features on iOS, it resulted in “amazing” engagement. The company tells us that users who have downloaded the iPhone app are 83 percent more engaged and 78 percent more responsive than they were before. Take these percentages with a grain of salt as specific numbers were not provided.
In the update, hosts will now be able to manage all their pre-approval options, including denying reservations or requesting more information. Additionally, it also includes a calendar management feature that lets hosts choose when their listings are available.
Prior to its arrival on Airbnb’s mobile apps, users needed to use the company’s website to manage all of these features.
Photo credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto