Google Hangouts competitor Rounds has just announced the launch of a new “co-browsing” feature which lets friends browse a limited number of popular sites together simultaneously.
This news follows Round’s rollout of HTML5 games in May, which included Tetris and Draw Something clones, plus classic board games like chess and checkers. Currently, Rounds says it has 8 million total users, approximately 6 percent (500 thousand) of which are on mobile.
To launch co-browsing, Rounds teamed up with Channel.me, a Netherlands-based startup which provides multi-user Web browsing services for consumers and businesses. Rounds calls its site browsing feature an “open URL” experience, but it is limited to just 14 sites: Google Search, Wikipedia, Preen.Me, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Amazon, eBay, ESPN, The Huffington Post, wanelo, Imgur and TheFancy.
We’re betting that free services like Pinterest will be most popular for Rounds users, but the company seems determined to make a truly social shopping experience popular on mobile devices. With support for major sites like Amazon and eBay, Rounds will quickly find out if shopping is the sort of behavior users will want to embrace during a video chat.
Image credit: Thinkstock
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See the original post: Google Hangouts competitor Rounds now lets users browse websites together while they chat
Automattic has acqu-hired the founder of Poster for iOS, a mobile app that allows bloggers to post to WordPress from their mobile device. The app’s creator Tom Witkin is joining the organization’s mobile design team where he says he’ll be both “designing and coding”.
As a result of this deal, Poster for iOS is no longer available for purchase. Witkin, in a blog post announcing the move, says that this applies to new users. If you are a current user, you will “always be able to re-download it” and the app will continue to be supported.
Witkin is excited about his move to Automattic:
I get to keep doing what I love: creating apps and experiences that enable and delight. The only difference is that I get new opportunities to continue to learn and develop personally and now get to work with some amazing people. I truly believe that something great will come from devoting my time and attention to Automattic.
Poster for iOS was billed as being a “simply beautiful way to blog.” It supported multiple languages, WordPress support, create custom post types, and posting through Dropbox, ability to open text and HTML from within other apps, and much more.
Naturally, as the proliferation of phone and tablet devices increases, people will want to post their thoughts while on the go. Automattic’s WordPress platform does have an iOS app, but with the integration of Poster, perhaps the design will be improved and many of its integrations and features could be incorporated.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
We’ve reached out to Automattic for comment and will update this if we hear back.
Update: We’ve received a statement from Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg: “We have acquired the Poster app and its technology, and we’re excited to have Tom contributing to the Automattic mobile team. WordPress on mobile is growing rapidly and so is our investment in it.”
Photo credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images
According to CNN, Google’s proposed stock split moved closer to execution this weekend as the company’s board approved a set of new stipulations regarding the guiding rules of the financial maneuver. The company has yet to file the new, proposed agreement, but it will largely mirror the initial plan, under which a new, non-voting class of stock would be issued to all current shareholders on a one to one basis.
The new deal also stipulates that when the company wishes to employ more than 10 million shares in an acquisition, it must contemplate the impact that the issuance will have on voting shareholders, and the larger company. Also in the new agreement, according to CNN, is a clause that if the company’s founders commence a – presumably large-scale – sale of their equity positions in Google, it will “consider abandoning the multi-class stock concept.”
Currently Google’s founders and former CEO Eric Schmidt collectively control more than 60% of its voting privileges. They are loathe to lose any of that control.
However, to preserve their position, and assuage investors, part of the stock split will not allow the three to sell non-voting stock, and retain only their equity that comes with voting power. As TNW reported in April of 2012:
Finally, Google has instituted a program for Eric, Larry, and Sergey that will keep their voting and economic rights in line. They call it a ‘stapling agreement.’ Essentially, it means that those three can’t dump class C shares, leaving them with a decreased economic interest in the firm, and a proportionally larger voting interest. This is to keep the system fair, in other words.
Given the new terms, I suspect the split will go through simply. Google currently trades at $887.88, which implies that both classes of shares, once the new equity is issued, will trade for north of $400. That’s still a pricey stock – Microsoft trades for a more modest $35, despite having a nearly identical market cap – but more modest than its current cost.
Top Image Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts
Update: A small correction was enacted regarding the 10 million share figure, and how it relates to acquisitions. I apologize for being slightly wrong the first time ’round.
Photo-sharing service SmugMug has acqu-hired the creator of SmugFolio, one of the popular Android apps in the Google Play store. In a blog post, it was revealed that SmugMug hired Brian Wood and today the company is rebranding SmugFolio to SmugMug for Android, with OAuth support, the ability to browser other user accounts without logging in, and infinite upload limit.
When talking about SmugFolio, SmugMug says that they were excited about the acquisition:
Brian did such a great job designing, building and maintaining this app we knew he bleeds green just like us. And he’s been a long-time SmugMug customer, to boot. So we asked if he’d come join the cadre as one of our official Android engineers. We couldn’t be happier to have him on our team!
This isn’t SmugMug’s first mobile app — in 2012, it launched Camera Awesome for iOS which now has more than 13 million downloads. However, while that app was focused on helping capture the photos, SmugMug for Android not only is the newest app on the platform, but is geared towards displaying the photos — akin to Flickr’s previous app (before it received the much-needed update). The company says that the app’s launch is much more than just a rebrand — the team has made “a few improvements to make your experience even better than before.”
The two main features that users will find with SmugMug for Android is the ability to browse through other accounts without needing to log in. Additionally, the new app also comes with enhanced security, specifically OAuth login. Sadly, as a result of the latter decision, the company says that users will need to have at least Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, installed on their device to get SmugMug for Android to work.
If you’re using Android 2.x or earlier, you can can still use SmugFolio, but you won’t be updated to the new app. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it is necessary to move the app forward.
Other improvements made to the app include being able to upload an unlimited number of photos and videos to your galleries, full screen slideshows, auto-download galleries when on WiFi, geo-tagging, read-only mode, and more.
As mentioned earlier, SmugMug for Android is a gallery application — it currently doesn’t have any features to help capture photos or videos and apply filters to them.
➤ SmugMug for Android
Photo credit: Tom Shaw/Getty Images
Here is the original post: SmugMug acqu-hires SmugFolio and launches its official Android app
Microsoft’s console business is on the backfoot, despite unveiling new hardware that will power the Xbox line for years, and an updated Kinect sensor that will greatly sharpen its accuracy. However, issues regarding used games, required Internet connectivity, market locks, and the price of the coming Xbox One have slowed Microsoft’s momentum.
In response to complaints that its $499 pricetag is too high, Microsoft is taking a somewhat hard line. In an interview with Bloomberg, Don Mattrick, head of the company’s interactive division, pushed back:
We’re over-delivering value against other choices I think consumers can get. Any modern product these days, you look at it: $499 isn’t a ridiculous price point. We’re delivering thousands of dollars of value to people, so, I think they’re going to love [the console] when they use it.
Sony’s new Playstation console will retail for $100 less, or $399.
I’m unsure about the market dynamics of the console market in regards to the purchase flexibility of consumers looking to pick up their next device. Given that console lifecyles have increased, the higher price could have less impact than one might think.
That’s not to say that Microsoft hasn’t taken a firm beating in the past week. Gamers have put a bit of stick about, mostly onto the company’s back. These wounds are self-derived, however, as Microsoft has managed to turn a purely metal ear to gamer issues; certainly every single soul inside of the Xbox team knew that the Internet connection requirement would lead to a public relations backlash. The company went ahead with its plan.
The other perspective to this is technology does need to advance, and sometimes that process is bloody. When Apple first yanked drives from some of their computers – floppy drives from iMacs, later DVD drives with Macbook Airs – there was complaint. But it was the right thing to do.
The Xbox line in my view had a momentum lead heading into the holiday season before the E3 set of mishaps. The company is now firmly lagging.
Top Image Credit: Luke Hayfield. Via Verge.
Google today announced an expansion of Chromebook availability worldwide, tripling the number of stores to 6,600. In addition to Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Dixons in the UK, the company has added at least 13 more retailers around the globe, with more to come.
The biggest additions are undoubtedly Walmart, which will be kicking off the partnership by offering the newest Acer Chromebook ($199), in approximately 2,800 stores across the US, and Staples, which will bring a mix of Chromebooks from Acer, HP, and Samsung to every store in the US (more than 1,500 in total). Additional US stores that will be getting Chromebooks in the coming months include select Office Depot, Office Max, as well as regional chains Fry’s and TigerDirect.
Outside of the US, in the 10 other markets worldwide where Chromebooks are currently sold, Google is focusing quite a bit on Europe. The company is expanding availability to 116 Tesco stores in the UK, as well as all Mediamarket and Saturn stores in the Netherlands, FNAC stores in France, and Elgiganten stores in Sweden. In Australia, all JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman stores will soon carry Chromebooks for their customers as well.
Again, Google hints that this is just one part of a broader retail push. “With our partners, we’re working hard to bring Chromebooks to even more countries later this year,” Google says.
Google is essentially trying to build momentum for Chrome OS, which hasn’t managed to sway many consumers away from the likes of more traditional operating systems nor mobile platforms. Having a big presence in physical stores will surely help Chromebooks sell, though it’s difficult to say if it will be enough to convince users to switch away from the likes of Windows and even Android.
See also – Google unveils 12.85″ touch-screen Chromebook Pixel with a 2560×1700 display, starting today at $1,299 and Google and DonorsChoose.org offer schools Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks for $99 each
Today Microsoft announced a new program that will see schools around the world able to purchase the company’s Surface RT tablet hybrid in bulk at a reduced per-unit rate.
The program is quite simple: Surface devices will be sold to schools at low prices. The restriction is that only the 32 gigabyte, Windows RT-based model is part of the program. Here are the prices schools will be offered:
Surface RT (32GB) – $199 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $499)
Surface RT (32GB) with Touch Keyboard Cover – $249 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $599)
Surface RT (32GB) with Type Keyboard Cover – $289 USD (Estimated Retail Price is $629)
As you can see, those discounts stretch past the 50% mark. The program will last from today, June 17 to August 31, 2013. Both K-12 schools and universities are eligible. The following countries are where the program is active:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China (via Digital China), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Microsoft published a short question and answer segment on the blog of its loyal denizen Ryan Lowdermilk. From those passages, why Microsoft is being “aggressive” in the sale of Surface units to schools:
Microsoft has a long tradition of offering special pricing to education customers. Microsoft’s mission in education is to help schools, students and educators realize their full potential. We do this by investing in education institutions through software, hardware and services at affordable prices. We think Surface RT is a terrific tool for teaching and learning, and we want students and educators to have the best technology on the market today.
Here’s a thought: At $250, Microsoft is selling a full tablet computer and keyboard that contains Microsoft Office for less coin than it costs to buy Office by itself in certain SKUs. Far, far less, in fact.
This, as you surely have noticed, is not the first time that Microsoft has in recent months enacted a steep price decline on its Surface line of devices. At TechEd North America, and Europe, the company sold heavily discounted first generation Surface hardware. And the company announced a 10,000 unit giveaway to teachers at an educational technology conference.
The company quite obviously has stock on hand to distribute.
I floated the idea that Microsoft is working on channel clearing, either to prepare for higher-capacity devices, or perhaps the next generation of devices. If the company has forecasted that it would not sell through its Surface RT stock before the next model was released, it would have been a simple choice to offer those units at a discount to get them into the hands of folks who want them. That remains speculation, however.
Update: Microsoft provided TNW with a short statement, the key part of which is: “Yes, it’s true. It’s important Microsoft does its part to help get devices into the hands of educators that help prepare today’s students with skills modern businesses demand.” Cheap tablets. Come ‘n get ‘em.
UPDATE: Google has informed us that there is inaccuracy in what we have reported below so read on with caution. We will update this report fully when Google has informed us of the details.
Google has partnered with Starbucks to tout its Google Play Music service that was announced during its developer conference. The search company says that customers can enjoy unlimited music through its service as they sip away on their beverage.
In a posting on its Google+ page, the company stated that customers can have complete access to Google Play’s library of songs and audio tracks while they’re sitting down.
What’s still unknown is exactly how long this promotion is going to last. Currently, Google has a promotion going whereby anyone (even outside of Starbucks) can listen to songs free of charge in a 30 day trial period. After that, it’s $7.99 a month, if they sign up before June 30.
It’s surprising that Google has offered to pay for WiFi at Starbucks. After all, it’s already free thanks to an agreement with AT&T, but in the background, most likely someone was paying for all the bandwidth. In this situation, Google appears to have taken on the financial burden in a sponsorship capacity.
Of course, the landing page that customers see when they successfully log on to the WiFi at Starbucks gets an enormous amount of traffic so it’s also not far-fetched to believe Google electing for a giant banner to appear.
The deal is certainly a bit of a blow to Apple as well. After all, the coffee company struck a deal back in 2007 with Apple to enable customers to easily and wirelessly find and buy music through its iTunes music store. Of course, it’s on the heels of Apple’s launch of its iTunes Radio station at its Worldwide Developer Conference to take on Spotify and Pandora.
We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this if we hear back.
Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Nuance Communications today released an update to its Dragon Mobile Assistant app for Android. Users with supported devices will find that it now includes hands-free driver technology, voice notifications, and new customization options.
Dubbed “Intelligent Driver Mode”, the updated version of Dragon helps users keep their eyes on the road when they’re driving and not on their phone. The company says that its app will know when the driver is in a moving vehicle and, when detected, will switch them to a hands-free mode.
Of course, it’s going to be pretty difficult to tell whether someone is actually driving or just riding in the passenger seat. However, the intent is a good one and anything that helps minimize the amount of distractions can’t be bad, right?
If you’re not familiar with the Dragon Mobile Assistant application, it’s a service that leverages Nuance’s voice recognition technology. The app was originally only available to those with Android 4.0 or newer installed, but last December, the company made it available to those with a minimum of 2.3 or higher.
The increased reach not only enables it to further its reach, but perhaps is a move by Nuance to help protect drivers from unnecessary distractions. Yes, we’ve all done it — taken out our smartphones when there’s a ding, phone call, or need to send a note to our friend letting them know that we’re going to be late. Protection isn’t limited to just those with the latest technology and opening Dragon to more devices could help save lives.
Nuance’s General Manager and Executive Vice President Michael Thompson said in a statement, “Dragon aspires to be an incredibly reliable and intuitive mobile personal assistant, not only responding to commands and providing relevant content, but also anticipating people’s needs in the moment — just like a true personal assistant.”
In addition to driver mode, Dragon has also been updated to include voice notifications that will transcribe Facebook status updates, messages, incoming calls, and even calendar events.
For those that love to customize these voice applications, Dragon users can tweak the command to activate the app. After all, it would be strange having to enable a voice service using your hands, right? Dragon can be set so that it will awaken by a simple command like “Hi Dragon”, “Hi dude”, “Turn on Dragon”, or whatever your heart’s content.
Currently, Dragon is only available in English and only for those users in the US.
➤ Dragon Mobile Assistant for Android
Photo credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images