As Twitter tries to surface more content from its network, it continues to beef up tweets and its Discover section of the site. Today, the company announced a few new features to make sure that you know the context behind a story so that you can figure out why it’s being shown to you within another big feature, Search.
Context has been the missing piece to Twitter all along and the company is trying to change that. This is of course the next evolution of its “Twitter Cards” initiative that now brings over 2,000 ways to interact with tweets.
View photos and videos first: People tell incredible stories on Twitter through photos and videos. When you search for a person, an event or a hashtag, you can now see a grid of the most relevant media above the stream of Tweets.
See headlines and photos: You can also see media instantly in your search results stream on iPhone and Android. Photos and article summaries automatically show previews to give you a bird’s eye view on what’s happening.
Understand context: About a year ago we launched tailored ranking of your search results, but until now you couldn’t see why a specific Tweet might matter more to you. Now you can see context like who favorited or retweeted right there in the Tweet.
As you can see below, when you visit Discover and search results on Twitter, the details within the tweet, be it a link or picture, are surfaced by default. No longer do you have to “expand them”:
As Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, recently stated, you don’t have to tweet to get the full value out of Twitter itself.
It’s time to update your mobile apps, too, as I mentioned. These are sweeping changes, changes for the better, and it will hopefully help onboard new users to Twitter, as well as keep us more informed on why we found the tweet that we found.
[Photo credit: Flickr]
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin, made an extraordinary call to America’s politicians today: he pleaded for them to denounce political parties. “Please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit,” he wrote on Google+ (full statement below):
I must confess, I am dreading today’s elections.
Not because of who might win or lose.
Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won’t matter at all — I’m not in a swing state).
Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan.
But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship. It is ironic since whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90% of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.
So my plea to the victors — whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit. It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country.
[If you agree, pass it on to your newly elected officials.]
Of course, Brin’s call is a tad impractical: every democracy on Earth has some party structure. Even though some American Founding Fathers despised political parties (what they called “factions”), they saw it as inevitable. “No free country has ever been without parties, which are a natural offspring of freedom,” wrote James Madison.
One popular, if contentious, solution to bitter partisanship is a multi-party system, where multiple groups are constantly forging new alliances based on specific issues, rather than a constant zero-sum tug-of-war where each party has the same enemy on every problem. Such “Consensus” democracies do exist around the world, but would require both Democrats and Republicans to give up power.
Perhaps more importantly, Brin might have disagreement within his own office suite, as his long-time business partner, Chairman Eric Schmidt, is a well-known Obama supporter.
I speak with little fear of contradiction when I tell you this is the first TechCrunch article posted from Myanmar aka Burma. Only a few years ago the Internet here was both tightly censored and insanely slow. But now that this country is “on the path to democracy,” according to Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi herself, Free Wi-Fi signs are widespread, and its Internet is freewheeling and … merely incredibly slow. So slow that it often reminds me of the 2400 baud modems of yore. Progress!
In the overheated Internet cafe in which I type there are not one but two European couples poring over the most recent version of Lonely Planet’s Myanmar (Burma) travel guidebook. They don’t know they’re dinosaurs. Dinosaurs rarely do. But I have seen the future of travel guides, and it lives on your phone. I’ve been navigating through Cambodia, Thailand and Burma using Triposo‘s worldwide guide app, and it’s been perfectly adequate to the task — and unlike Lonely Planet’s own apps, it’s free. (I’ve also been using mine own app WikiSherpa, which draws on much the same sources; but honesty compels me to admit that, while WikiSherpa is more capable in a number of ways, Triposo is much slicker and easier to use.)
But enough about travel apps for us self-satisfied foreign tourists. What’s more important are the Android and Apple ads that clog the streets of Mandalay, the temple shopkeeper I passed yesterday playing a game on his Galaxy Note, the teenage girls riding sidesaddle on motorcycles holding their phones carefully just away from the tree-bark paste smeared in artful wing-shapes on their cheeks, serving triple duty as sunscreen, moisturizer, and fashion.
Just before the iPhone 5 was released, Andy Rubin tweeted that half a billion Android devices had been activated; during its presentation, Tim Cook mentioned that four hundred million iOS devices had been sold. Throw in BlackBerries and Windows Phones, account for people with multiple devices, and let’s round up and call it a billion. (This will not be my best-researched post ever. See above comment re Internet speed here.)
Well, the next billion smartphone users will be the second billion most affluent people on the planet, near enough; and their lives are very different from the first billion. Everyone (including me) keeps talking about how widespread smartphone adoption will be revolutionary for the developing world, but that’s all very airy and abstract. While travelling I’ve been trying to think of solid, concrete examples of what that revolution will look like.
Some are the same as anywhere; Facebook will remain the most popular app and web site anywhere it isn’t censored. But others? Take Uber, that darling of the rich first world. No such service will take off anytime soon in the poor world, where battalions of motorcycle taxis wait on every major streetcorner waiting for customers. TaskRabbit? Forget about it. Labor is cheap here already.
On the other hand, everyone here travels to other towns by bus, train, or shared taxi, and buying tickets and making arrangements for those is a process full of pain points ripe for disruption. Whoever manages to become the Craiglist or TicketMaster/LiveNation of developing-world inter-city transit will be a megazillionaire in short order on raw volume alone.
Then there’s finance. Old news in Kenya, where M-Pesa is already a revolution in action, but as far as I can tell there’s nothing near as dominant and disruptive in most places. Only a matter of time, and probably not very much of it; and banking — having a savings account and a way to transfer money to and from family and friends — really matters. Try to imagine life without it. That’s life for most people. And where there’s finance, insurance can’t be far behind.
But I think where smartphones will really matter is in the realm of education. There’s a whole ocean of knowledge out there, but until now, most people have only been able to sip from random patches with a thin straw. For the first time, the youth among those second billion smartphone owners will be able to get really interested in, or better yet passionate about, something — and then be able to learn everything there is to know about it, at their leisure, in their homes. If you ask me, that’s a revolution all by itself.
See the rest here: The Second Billion Smartphone Users
Nokia finally managed to offload its luxury-oriented Vertu brand to private equity firm EQT-VI late last week, but the parties involved seemed content to keep quiet at the time. Not so anymore — Vertu has just issued an official statement on the matter, and shed a bit of new light on its executive structure going forward.
Sources told TechCrunch late last week that Nokia alum Anssi Vanjoki would take over Vertu’s CEO spot, but that no longer seems to be the case. Instead, he has been appointed chairman of a new, non-executive board intended to support current Vertu chief Perry Oosting as he continues to run the show.
So what’s next for the newly transferred business unit? Vertu’s statement also points to the existence of a “strong product roadmap in development,” though there was no further explanation on the matter. The company is probably best known for tricking out otherwise droll feature phones with ridiculously ostentatious trim (to their credit, they never took the easy route and blinged up commonly-available hardware), but recent hardware forays like the Constellation line have underlined a shift in the company’s understanding of the mobile market. Paying a ridiculous sum of money for a phone is one thing, but paying a ridiculous sum of money for a phone that’s technically inferior to more common devices doesn’t seem to be a philosophy Vertu will be clinging to for much longer.
To wit: recent rumblings point to Vertu’s adoption of Android for use in powering its future handsets. It’s a savvy move, if true — it’s highly customizable for one (which means that Vertu owners could soon have a gaudy smartphone UI to go with their device’s gaudy industrial design), not to mention that the shift could finally put Vertu hardware on the same level as other modern smartphones. Then again, I’m not sure how many people actually bought Vertu handsets for their functionality, so who knows how this will all play out.
In August, Google’s Motorola Mobility filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), asking the ITC to basically ban the import of virtually all of Apple’s hardware products. A few weeks ago, the ITC decided to formally investigate these claims. Now, however, Motorola has unexpectedly withdrawn its complaint.
FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller has the full text of Google’s filing, which the ITC published earlier today:
UNOPPOSED MOTION TO TERMINATE OF COMPLAINANTS MOTOROLA MOBILITY LLC, MOTOROLA MOBILITY IRELAND AND MOTOROLA MOBILITY INTERNATIONAL
Under 19 C.F.R. § 210.21(a), Complainants Motorola Mobility LLC, Motorola Mobility Ireland, and Motorola Mobility International Limited (collectively, ‘Motorola’) hereby move to terminate all claims in this investigation without prejudice based on Motorola’s withdrawal of the complaint, with Motorola and Apple each bearing their own costs and attorneys’ fees. There are no agreements between Motorola and Apple, written or oral, express or implied, concerning the subject matter of this investigation. Respondent Apple Inc. and the Office of Unfair Import Investigations Staff Attorney have confirmed that they do not oppose this motion.
As none of the seven patents involved in this complaint were standards-essential, most pundits assumed that Google actually stood at least a small chance to get the ITC to ban some of Apple’s imports.
Typically, as Mueller notes, a withdrawal like this would indicate that the two parties reached some kind of settlement. The motion, however, clearly states that “there are no agreements between Motorola and Apple, written or oral, express or implied, concerning the subject matter of this investigation.”
Why exactly Motorola decided to withdraw the complaint remains a bit of a mystery. Maybe, Mueller speculates, Motorola’s issues with tracking down certified copies of all of the necessary documents had something to do with this, or maybe Motorola thought it couldn’t win the lawsuit.
We have asked Google for a comment about why it withdrew the complaint, but the company isn’t talking about the reasoning behind this move. Here is the brief statement we received from Google: “As we have said many times before, we will continue to vigorously defend our partners.”