Google today launched the website for its Google I/O 2014 developer conference over at google.com/io. The company also revealed that registration will be open between April 8 at 5:00am PDT and April 10 at 5:00pm PDT. If you can’t attend, Google will also have a livestream of the keynote and sessions as well as local I/O Extended events.
As Google revealed last month, Google I/O 2014 will be held on June 25 and June 26 at Moscone West in San Francisco. This year, to stop the event selling out too quickly, the company will be randomly selecting from the list of applicants after the registrion window closes on April 10.
See also – What to expect from Google in 2014
Image Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino/Getty Images
Google is doing something different with registration for its 2014 I/O Developer Conference this year. The company isn’t doing first-come, first-served this time around, which has resulted in a crazy scrum and a lot of server errors in the past, but instead will open a full two-day window during which anyone can sign up, after which Google will choose randomly from the entire pool of applicants.
If that sounds like they’re leaving a bit too much to chance, console yourself with this fancy new I/O website Google created, which includes an interactive “Experiment” that’s pretty high concept, but possibly signals some of the areas of focus of this year’s show. Machine learning looks a likely subject, and possibly exoplanet exploration, though that last one might not be the central concern of all that many developer sessions.
Even if you don’t get picked to play at I/O in person, Google is offering live streaming video of keynotes and sessions, and there are going to be a set of I/O Extended events taking place at various locales around the world for people who like the human touch but can’t make it all the way to SF. Details regarding these Extended events will be released soon, Google says.
Continue reading here: Google’s I/O Registration Lottery Happens April 8 – 10: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor
comScore today released its top 50 US Web properties for February 2014. While Yahoo has been dominating Google for the last seven months straight, the two have now switched spots again.
This time, Google finished first, just ahead of Yahoo, much like it has for the last few years:
Yahoo has topped comScore’s list for the last seven months, starting in July 2013. Before that, Yahoo was first way back in May 2011. As we’ve noted before, this was an impressive feat given that Yahoo’s numbers exclude Tumblr, which last month ranked at #37.
Image Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino/Getty Images
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There’s a gold rush on, and the people striking it rich are the ones building things — not apps, not software, but honest-to-goodness hardware, like the Oculus Rift, whose creator, Oculus VR, was just purchased by Facebook for around $2 billion in cash and stock. Earlier today, Intel closed its purchase of wearable health tech maker BASIS, and Google recently bought Nest for $3.2 billion. Google is also said to be nosing around wearable device makers for another purchase, and everywhere you look, Internet companies are spending money on things, not just platforms or virtual experiences.
So what’s the story here? Does Facebook really care about immersive gaming technology, which, while exciting, is undoubtedly still something that excites the fringes and core gamers more than anyone else? And is Google really that interested in building thermostats and smoke detectors? The answer is probably not, but both companies are interested in the future of the web, and the future of the web doesn’t limit itself to apps on your smartphone or pages in your browser.
This seems odd when taken as a single data point on its own, but consider the contextual web that surrounds it: Google has acquired a number of robotics startups over the past couple of years, and it also recently purchased Motorola’s mobility division. It sold Motorola to Lenovo, but not before it extracted ATAP, a division that focuses on building advanced, connected next-gen hardware. Microsoft similarly picked up Nokia’s smartphone business, which means it, too, is expanding its hardware arsenal. Also, I’ve heard FB wasn’t Oculus VR’s only suitor.
On the Oculus side, the startup had made good progress and only recently announced its DK2 developer hardware, which is a step closer to a consumer product but isn’t quite there yet. Facebook’s offer seems to include stipulations that will see it continue its development of its virtual reality headset at Facebook, both for gaming and for “the most social platform ever,” according to a statement by Mark Zuckerberg, which will “change the way we work, play and communicate.”
While Zuckerberg seems to suggest FB is preparing for an immersive social-networking experience akin to a much more advanced Second Life taking place in a Star Trek holodeck, I’m more inclined to believe that this is part of a larger hardware land grab that doesn’t necessarily have a clear endpoint in mind.
Google and Facebook are much more competitors now than they ever have been in the past, and if one is making a big bet on connected devices as the future of the web, the other is sure to follow. People might want to seek out a more specific, complete motivation for this purchase, especially given the price tag. But it’s much more likely that these are bets made in advance to set the purchasing companies up for a game on a board that isn’t yet clearly defined, and that won’t take shape for at least another few years.
See the original post here: Facebook’s Oculus Buy Signals A Hardware Land Grab, And Company Fit Isn’t A Concern
Facebook had a huge success with its web gaming canvas, but got locked out of mobile gaming revenue by platform owners Apple (iOS) and Google (Android). Facebook seems determined not to miss the next big gaming platform, as today it announced plans to acquire Oculus, makers of the Rift virtual reality headset, for $2 billion in cash and stock. And long-term, it’s looking to take VR beyond games and into simulated in-person connection.
If Apple or Google had acquired Oculus, it could have been the mobile gaming fiasco all over again.
On the web, Facebook’s canvas attracted tons of big developers like Zynga with its personal data an opportunities for growth. In exchange, it got to lay a 30% tax on what developers earned through in-app purchases.
But on mobile, the native app stores were controlled by Apple and Google. It was them that got that 30% tax. Facebook tried to launch an HTML5 gaming platform, but it floundered since mobile web games were so much less powerful than native ones. In the end, Facebook was relegated to becoming a “social layer”, providing login, sharing, and advertising to game developers. Eventually it bought Parse to add a mobile-backend-as-a-service to its offering. But it was still iOS and Android that held the reins.
Now with the purchase of Oculus, the roles could be reversed. Developers who want to build for virtual reality hardware will have to come to Facebook, and it’s Apple and Google who could feel left out in the cold.[Update: As for exactly how Facebook will monetize Oculus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the call to investors, "We're clearly not a hardware company. We're not going to try to make a profit off of the hardware long-term...but if it we can make this a network where people are communicating, and buying virtual goods, and there might be ads down the line...that’s where the business could come from."]
For now, Facebook will let Oculus operate independently with a focus on gaming. And to some, that makes the acquisition seem out of sync with Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected. Perhaps that’s why Facebook’s share price is sinking. But down the line, Zuckerberg believes that VR could be used for much more:
[Update: On the call to investors, Zuckerberg said "Oculus has the potential to be the most social platform ever." He also said that Facebook expects people will love using virtual reality, it will become an integral part of people's lives, and it could be the next important computing platform.]
“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
This all reveals how Oculus could be at the center of Facebook’s long-term strategy to connect people as vividly as possible. A criticism frequently lobbed at Facebook is that it actually isolates people rather than bringing them together. Scrolling through the News Feed is not the same as talking and laughing with a friend in person. But with Oculus, Facebook could one day make you feel like you’re right next to the people you love, no matter how far away they are.
Tumblr today added a very important security feature to its service, with the addition of two-factor authentication – an option available within the blogging service’s “Settings” section as of now. The move sees Tumblr at last joining the ranks of other top tech companies, including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, the majority of which offer some sort of two-factor authentication in order to provide an extra layer of security and protection for user accounts, making them less vulnerable to unauthorized access by hackers.
Two-factor authentication, for those who don’t understand what that means, is a blanket term describing a method involving two stages (factors) for verifying a user’s identity. Simply put, it means you need two things in order to prove you are who you say you are – not just a username and password. One typical scenario would involve a user providing something they know, like a password, combined with something they have, like a cell phone tied to a verified phone number.
In Tumblr’s case, the cell phone scenario is exactly the method they’re using. On the Account Settings page, users can first step up two-factor authentication by doing the following:
After setup is complete, you’ll then need to provide the authentication code at the time of login in an additional field below the username and password box on the web (see screenshot above). On mobile, you’ll also need to generate a special one-time password in order to log in through your mobile apps on iOS or Android, Tumblr notes.
Unfortunately, in initial tests, we had some difficulties getting Tumblr to accept the provided code, and attempts at having the code re-sent failed, implying there could still be some kinks in to work out here. [Update: after waiting a bit and trying a third time, the system worked flawlessly.]
Tumblr users with two-factor authentication switched on will immediately be less vulnerable to attacks and hacking attempts. While nothing will absolutely protect you from someone determined to gain unauthorized access to your account on Tumblr or anywhere else, two-factor authentication makes it much harder, as the would-be hacker would need both your username and password, and physical access to your phone to proceed.
Tumblr until recently was one of the few companies cited on TwoFactorAuth.org, a website that lists which services support two-factor (abbreviated 2FA), and which methods they offer - like SMS, Google Auth, Authy, or another custom method. Most of the big-name tech companies – at least in the social space – either support 2FA or have it in development, like Reddit, noted as being “in progress.” Tumblr, however, was the only social service listed that was noted as lacking 2FA altogether.
More info on the new feature is available here on Tumblr’s website.
The vast collusion between technology companies to prevent poaching and hiring among themselves, thereby limiting fair-market wages for the workers in question, has a new wrinkle today: Facebook refused to play ball, and we have a statement to that effect.
A filing widely reported today includes an anecdote from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, indicating that Google once approached her to propose a détente of sorts between the firms. Here’s Sandberg on the how the ask came to be:
“In or about August 2008, I was contacted by Jonathan Rosenberg, who was then at Google. Mr. Rosenberg expressed concern about what he described as the perceived rate at which Facebook could hire employees from Google. Around the same time, I also discussed a similar topic with Omid Kordestani, who was also at Google. I declined at that time to limit Facebook’s recruitment or hiring of Google employees. Nor have I made or authorized any such agreement between Facebook and Google since that time.”
In short, while other companies were being bullied by Apple and others to stop picking up talent from each other, Facebook wasn’t willing to participate.
It’s worth noting that Facebook was hotter than the sun back in 2008, so for it to continue to recruit from other firms could could have been a reflection of its market position; if you are doing the poaching, why would you disarm?
Just how annoyed Google was concerning Facebook stealing its staff? From a separate filing:
So that’s that. Sandberg wasn’t having it. The above appears to corroborate her own telling of the story.
And what happens next is precisely what is supposed to happen when companies don’t collude to defraud their employees of fair-market wages: Google coughed up more money to improve its retention.
Here’s the very next paragraph of the filing screenshotted above:
The gist here is simple: The pervasive attempt by large tech companies to suppress wages by diminishing their employees’ rights to choose where they work is not merely selfish in the extreme, but is counter to the very market principles that made these companies so successful to begin with.
You can’t just free market part of the time. Good on Facebook for not being party to the shenanigans.
Google announced today plans to “join forces” with the Luxottica Group, the parent company of Ray-Ban, Oakley and several other luxury glasses brands, to design and manufacture new Google Glass frames.
While the specifics of the partnership aren’t clear from Google’s post, Luxottica will lend its “design and manufacturing expertise” to help create more designs for Glass explorers, and its retail outlets will come in handy when Glass goes on sale.
From the sound of it, Google doesn’t have any new glasses frames to announce in the immediate future, but it is marking the collaboration as “the start of a new chapter in Glass’s design.”
Google began selling its first batch of Glass-compatible prescription frames in January. The line of titanium glasses were designed in-house.
Today, a publication based in Turkey is reporting that the Turkish government has also blocked Google’s DNS service, making it even harder to circumvent the ban. Those in Turkey are still able to use VPN services to access Twitter, but it’s clear the government is not backing down yet.
News of DNS workarounds had spread quickly within the country; tweets sent from inside Turkey were up over 138% compared to before the censoring of the service was implemented.
CNET also reports today that YouTube is at risk of being censored in Turkey as well. The video service has started to receive a large amount of requests from authorities in Turkey requesting that videos be taken down, but the company refuses to remove the videos as it supports a “free and open Internet.”
Twitter’s lawyers met with the Turkish government yesterday, but it’s not clear if the meeting will result in changes to the ongoing censorship of the service.
Update: Turkey is now blocking Twitter’s IP addresses at the ISP level in the country so that users aren’t able to use any DNS services to circumvent the block.
Image via DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
Ask three different smart, knowledgeable people in tech about their views on smartwatches, and you’re bound to receive at least four plausible opinions on the matter. As someone hilariously snarked on Twitter, “even a broken smartwatch opinion will be write twice a day.” Jokes aside, I’ve been getting more excited about smartwatches with the news dribbling out over the past few months and speculation rising. As Google and potentially Apple join the popular Pebble, along with companies like Jawbone, FitBit (which already claim wrist real estate), Runkeeper, and others, the looming, high-level question for consumers may not just be platform-specific apps and functionality, but the effects (and potential handcuffs) of mobile platform and ecosystem lock-in.
Here’s how think about the choices consumers may face, assuming they want technology on their wrists — which, depending who you talk to, isn’t a foregone conclusion. “If” Apple does eventually develop a device for the wrist, we’d expect it to run on iOS, to seamlessly set up and pair with the iPhone, and to interoperate with other iOS systems and some suite of apps. Based on Google’s initial tip of the hand regarding “Android Wear,” they may view the wrist as a new interaction frontier to extend the power of its anticipatory computing service, Google Now. For those who would rather not feel locked in by a mobile platform, a range of existing and new platforms will be on the market in different shapes and forms.
Despite all the speculation about what could adorn our wrists – and it is fun to speculate – there’s just no way to know what the big players will do, how good these new experiences will be (out of the gate), and whether even early adopters and fanatics will buy these new devices at the same pace at which we’ve been accustomed to buying cell phones. (I won’t try to reconstruct the countless posts on the matter here, though for reference, I’d encourage people to read Mark Gurman’s excellent post on Healthbook (for iOS, which should be noted, isn’t about a watch), The Verge’s piece on Android Wear (by Dante D’Orazio) and Benedict Evans’ great piece analyzing both experiences. Instead, I’ll try to run through what choices consumers may make based on the evidence today, though its based on hearsay and not matters of fact, yet._
In such an unknown world, having vibrant third-party platforms is not only healthy, it may also be what consumers want to escape the handcuffs of any mobile platform lock-in. In this scenario, outfits such as Jawbone, Fitbit, Runkeeper, and others may have enough institutional expertise (and focus and passion!) to make this transition and/or morph into new interfaces with the advent of new motion sensors. And then, there’s Pebble, the already-popular independent smartwatch-maker, headquartered right in Silicon Valley, composed of a team which has built and shipped newer versions of its watches to rabid fans. On Pebble, which already has partnerships with other third-party apps, users interact on their phones through a Pebble app that helps setup and control the watch. This allows users the option to switch mobile platforms and keep their smartwatch, with less of a lock-in effect. Whether mobile platforms will slap users on the wrist with their lock-in techniques, no one knows — but what is certain is that those in the market for smartwatches and/or sensor-based wearables (or even connected jewelry) won’t handcuffed nor left without plenty of choice. And that is a very exciting thing.
Photo Credit: Kim Carpenter / Creative Commons Flickr
See original here: Mobile Platforms, Smartwatches, And Golden Handcuffs