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
Most people are too scared to seriously play the stock market. Few amateurs know enough to confidently invest on their own. Luckily, free iOS app Robinhood launches today to put crowdsourced finance wisdom in your pocket. Track stocks, view advice on what to buy or sell from other users, share your predictions, and build a reputation. Robinhood could turn a new generation into investors.
But it’s not just for novices. Robinhood was designed to be the best mobile stock-tracking tool in the world. Surprisingly enough, that’s not that difficult. When Robinhood’s founders asked focus groups and financial veterans what they use to research stocks on the web the resounding answer was “Yahoo Finance,” but when asked what they used on mobile, most replied “….”
That’s why Robinhood’s founders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt set out to combine social investing with a sleek mobile design that’s heavy on gestures. They’re the right guys for the job, since this is their third finance company. Both Stanford grads, Baiju got a master’s in math there too, while Vlad dropped out of UCLA’s prestigious math PhD program so the two could found an algorithmic trading startup called Celeris. Then they built the financial software company Chronos Research, which worked with major investment banks.
These experiences revealed the senseless gap in mobile and the unaddressed consumer market.”Think about doing something intelligent with your money,” Bhatt tells me. “We find a lot of people, especially younger people, don’t do it. It’s not that they have some disagreement with entering the stock market, but they don’t know how to do it.” And no one’s really helping. If you look at the top of the finance app charts, you just see things like PayPal, Mint, and various banks’ apps.
So the goal of Robinhood? To put individual human investment advisors out of business and give their jobs to the crowd who can walk each other through smart bets. And that’s an approach increasingly supported by research. Robinhood is working with teams at Stanford and MIT to prove out theories and early data suggesting crowds perform better in the stock market than even the most skilled individual. That’s convenient for people who don’t have the spare change to hire an advisor.
When you first join Robinhood and its merry band of investors (currently only on iOS), you’ll get suggestions of local and popular stocks to add to your watch list and see friends you can follow. Once finished on-boarding you’ll see your watch list that tracks the performance of the stocks you follow. The News tab pulls in the popular finance articles, which are remarkably up to date and accurate, as well as a personalized stream of articles about your stocks.
Click into any of your stocks to get more info on their performance stats over time, related news, plus a crowdsourced buy/sell rating. For instance, 69 percent of the Robinhood community rates Google a buy right now.
If you want to lend your thoughts, the app takes advantage of the touch interface to let you drag your finger across a chart to show how much you think the stock’s price will rise or fall over the coming weeks and months. Then you can add a short comment to support your prediction. For example, you could swipe to say Google will go up 8 percent in the next three months, and explain “The market is realizing the importance of Glass and self-driving cars, and their synergies with Google’s other businesses.”
The meat of Robinhood is the Feed, where these predictions show up. You can scroll through a global feed or just recommendations from your friends, and agree, disagree, or comment on them. Rather than a broadcast platform, Robinhood doubles as a social network around stocks, where you can ask people specifically why they made a rating. Overall the app feels slick and professional, which is critical to Robinhood as its success largely depends on trust. The style comes thanks to the design team at Google Ventures, the lead investor in Robinhood. Its seed round was also joined by strategic angels including several early members of the executive team from leading electronic market maker GETCO.
But how do you know which Robinhood users to believe? That’s where my favorite feature comes in. If you asked a traditional investment advisor what their track record over time is, Bhatt tells me they’d typically dodge, stating “past performance is not indicative of future results.” In other words, they get it wrong sometimes, but don’t want you to know.
Well, guess what, Wall Street? The Internet’s here and it brought its buddy, transparency. Robinhood tracks everyone’s stock price predictions against real-word performance and lays them out on each user’s profile. So you can see someone has rated 107 stocks with 70.42 percent accuracy, an extremely impressive record that earns them a score in the 99th percentile of all Robinhood users, aka, this is someone you might do well to trust.
The app’s Community tab even offers leaderboards of the best performing advisors, and suggestions of people to follow. Bhatt explains that along with fostering transparency and trust, the ratings are “a way for people to show they’re smart. That’s a very compelling driver of any action.” During beta tests, a whopping 25 percent of users were contributing predictions. So much participation is very uncommon for user-generated content apps. It seems there’s pent-up demand for a collaborative approach to stock research that a traditional website like Yahoo Finance just can’t provide.
Robinhood is solid already and it’s just getting started. In the future the company hopes to let you actually buy the stocks you’re betting on. That would take it from its current place competing with Stocktwits’ unstructured micro-advice to more directly battling E*Trade and other mass-market investment mediums. In the meantime, it needs to watch out for buy ratings going viral, which can produce big wins for those who jump on the bandwagon early, but excruciating losses for those who buy late only to see the price snap back down.
But what really excites me about Robinhood is how it shifts investing from a game of access to a game of talent and cooperation. The stock market has long been the domain of suits who spend all day researching and the clients who can afford to pay them. With this app, finally anyone can get their hunches validated or invalidated by the knowledge of a crowd that’s held accountable to their predictions. While the stock market will always be risky, Robinhood lets you know you’re not alone in facing those risks.
Tenev explains his app’s name reflects that. “We understand the connotation of taking something from the rich and giving it to the poor. Robinhood is liberating information that’s locked up with professionals and giving it to the people.”
Download Robinhood for iOS
Read this article: Win The Stock Market With Crowdsourced Advice From New App Robinhood
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Foap, the iPhone app that lets users upload and sell their photos through the startup’s stock photo marketplace, has followed through on its promise to open up the service to brands (yes, that word again) who want to use the platform as a form of engagement marketing, while also offering another avenue for keen “iPhoneographers” to get paid.
It’s also announcing that Puma, Rebtel, Interflora AB, Hattrick, and VisitSweden have signed up as brand partners.
Dubbed “Foap Missions”, brands define a photographic brief (e.g. take a picture of X in Y) and set a cash prize for the winning entry. They then push this “mission” out to their existing community channels and through Foap itself. Users are asked to upload photos via the Mission section of the app, which brands can access via the service’s dashboard.
Interestingly, only photos that receive a user rating of 2.5/5 or above — the same cowdsourced filtering employed by the main Foap marketplace — show up in the brand’s dashboard.
After the mission deadline closes, the brand selects a winner and can also purchase any of the entries for use in their campaigns at the same $10 a pop that Foap normally charges; the photographer gets a 50% cut of any sale.
However, despite co-founder David Los calling the feature a “game changer” for social media and the stock photo industry, the whole photo missions concept as a form of engagement marketing isn’t an entirely new one. Mobile photo sharing app EyeEm, for example, launched a similar initiative last November, signing up Red Bull and the airline Lufthansa. The difference here though is that users actually get paid — EyeEm isn’t a marketplace like Foap, but competes more along the lines of Instagram.
Meanwhile, Foap is putting out some updated numbers: It says that the app has now been downloaded 320,000 times and photo uploads have reached 2.4 million (up from the 150,000 downloads and 1.4m photo submissions cited four months ago).
Just as some people are put on this earth to create things, others are prone to destroy everything they touch. Those people should probably spend some time with the Caterpillar-branded CAT B15, an aluminum-and-rubber-clad Android smartphone that (inadvertently) encouraged people to work on their stress issues here at MWC.
Naturally, Caterpillar isn’t actually making the phones — it’s a very far cry from the engines and bulldozers that the company is better known for. The device itself is made by a licensee called Bullitt Mobile, a U.K.-based company whose sole reason for existing seems to be churning out these sorts of rugged handsets.
In fact, It’s actually rather hard to get a firm idea of how tough this thing actually is. Sure, it’s completely dust-proof (assuming all the ports are properly closed) and the 4-inch display is swathed in second generation Gorilla Glass, but it’s all sort of abstract until you hold the thing in your hand the feel the urge to heave it somewhere. In spite of its considerable chubbiness, the B15 is actually lighter than you’d expect, though it’s still going to elicit some stares should you shove the thing into your pocket.
In a classic case of brawn vs. brains, the B15 isn’t the snappiest thing you’ll ever see with its dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor and but it’s still got enough horsepower to handle most daily tasks. If anything, performance is aided by the fact that the particular build of Android loaded up on the B15 is totally stock — no garish, cumbersome UI to be found here.
And perhaps best of all, the 4-inch display recognizes touch input even when it’s wet — mostly. After a booth representative shot down my attempt to hurl the thing like baseball (not a huge loss, my fastball is pretty lousy), I settled for dunking the B15 in some water a few times. For the first few instances, things worked fine, but at some point you’ll eventually have to wipe the thing down for it to start behaving properly again. Hardly a big deal, but those of you looking for an Android-powered diving buddy will have to look elsewhere (especially because it’s only waterproof until you go deeper than 1 meter).
In the event that your current smartphone is just too puny to keep up with your lifestyle, the CAT B15 will be available in March for €395 — try not to hurt yourself until then.
See the article here: The CAT B15 Android Smartphone Has A Weird Name But The Brawn To Back It Up