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There are few services we at The Next Web could tell you more about than Convo. We use it all day, every day for keeping in touch with each other, sharing story ideas and making sure our team is a mean, lean blogging machine. Sadly, its mobile experience has lagged way behind that of its desktop app.
That changes today, at least on iOS, with the launch of a completely overhauled app that makes conversing and sharing with colleagues on the go much easier and more enjoyable than it was before.
The first thing the new app has going for it is speed – both in literal terms and in terms of how quickly you can access the information you need. Convo says that feed scrolling is now 100% faster and commenting and messaging has been sped up by 40%. It’s hard to verify those figures but as a user, the difference between this and the previous version truly is night and day.
In addition to everything loading in a pleasingly speedy manner, the UI has been overhauled with ‘pull to refresh’ (complete with a nice ‘unfolding page’ animation) and a really nice ‘quick view’ for comments on any thread. From the main feed you can only see the latest comment on any thread, but a simple swipe to the left pops out the full comment thread without you having to leave the feed itself.
Search has received an overhaul too, with advanced options to help you find the exact conversation you need. When you use Convo as much as we do, this is really important – digging up a colleague’s year-old prediction that a Facebook phone would launch the following week (for the lulz) has never been so easy. There are bigger images and a new image gallery too.
There’s still a lot of work to make the Convo mobile experience perfect. An Android app is sorely missing, although we’re told that’s planned for the future. For the time being, users of other platforms can use a mobile Web app which, while not as good as the new iOS app, is way better than its previous incarnation. Also, the IM function of the desktop app is notable by its absence on mobile apps at the moment. There are times when I’ve been on a bus or tram and wanted to have a private chat with a colleague and have had to resort to email when normally I’d ping them on Convo for a quick answer.
Convo tells us that the TNW team has passed the 700,000 post mark on its platform in the two years that we’ve been using it, with 3,000 daily interactions and 95% of the team logging in every single day. With that in mind, this iOS update is a welcome move for us, and if you’re considering adopting the service, which competes with the likes of Yammer and Salesforce Chatter, it may well be welcome to you too.
Convo is priced at $9 per user per month, with a limited free option and an enterprise version with variable pricing.
Catch the latest app reviews right now at TNW Apps.
Image credit: Getty Images
Go here to see the original: Convo’s revamped iOS app is a slick and speedy way to share with colleagues on the go
We’d been hearing for a while that Storybricks, the AI gaming startup co-founded by serial entrepreneur Rodolfo Rosini, had picked up a major client win since pivoting to license its technology to games studios. We just didn’t say who, in case it hadn’t closed, except to describe the potential partnership as of “jaw-dropping magnitude”. Today, the cat is out of the bag. In its latest newsletter, Storybricks confirms that it is collaborating with Sony Online for EverQuest Next, the latest sequel to the highly successful EverQuest franchise. Jaw-dropping indeed for a six-person company.
Late last year we reported that, after a failed Kickstarter campaign, Storybricks was pivoting. Gone was the company’s super-ambitious mission to create a new browser-based MMO that would let users turn stories into games. Instead, harnessing much of its core tech, the startup was aiming to build the best artificial intelligence (AI) engine for online games by giving characters emotions — and licensing this engine to third-parties. And now it seems that Sony Online — specifically EverQuest Next — will be the first title to benefit from Storybricks’ AI boosting technology.
The announcement, via the company’s newsletter, is very short on details. Instead it teases: “After several months of working together with Sony Online, we can finally reveal that we are collaborating on EverQuest Next. EQN is ‘the biggest sandbox ever designed’ and we are extremely happy to be working on the most innovative MMORPG under development.”
It goes on to state that the company “can’t give any specifics about what we are doing on EQN yet”, except to say that it is “doing remarkable things”.
Curiosity never killed this cat, so I tracked down Rosini over email to push for more information about the startup’s partnership with Sony Online. “Sorry we can’t talk about it yet,” he wrote with uncharacteristic reserve. When pressed, however, he did reveal that the collaboration is generating significant revenue for Storybricks and isn’t royalty-based.
It wasn’t the only deal on the table, either. Rosini says that lots of games studios were interested in working with the startup, but they could only embark on one project of this size. “EQN could be the most important game of the next 10 years,” he said. “We could not let this opportunity pass.”
Finally, returning to form, Rosini signed off with the following: “Also there are [a] few VCs who are hardcore Warcraft players and certainly I enjoy being able to have access to the new new MMO before them.”
Well, they do say that money can’t buy you everything.
Read the original here: AI Gaming Startup Storybricks Collaborating With Sony Online For EverQuest Next
Today, over five million businesses are now using Google Apps to help their employees collaborate and connect via the cloud. In just a few years, the adoption of Google’s productivity suite has skyrocketed and, while small businesses have long been its core customer, adoption up the chain is increasing as well. At the same time, as the Google Apps ecosystem continues to expand and evolve, with new services emerging around Chromebooks, Vault, Drive and Android, it can be tough for businesses to keep up with all the new tools, tweaks and iterations.
Synergyse, a Toronto-based startup, is launching today to help businesses keep up with changes to Google’s litany of web-based software services and provide an interactive training system to get employees up to speed. In principle, Synergyse has a similar goal to services like BetterCloud, which also aim to make it easy for businesses to move to and get the most out of Google Apps. However, while BetterCloud offers training videos to help employees learn how to use the productivity suite, the service caters more to Google Apps admins, allowing them to manage domains, reporting, security and compliance.
Synergyse, on the other hand, focuses purely on the educational element, offering an interactive and scalable training system for employees. The startup’s training platform covers Gmail, GCal and Drive at launch, with more to come soon, offering access to training directly inside each application. Other than a few players like BetterCloud and “how-to” videos littered across YouTube, Synergyse co-founder (and former Google engineer) Varun Malhotra tells us that he thinks training has been largely absent from the Google Apps ecosystem.
On Main Street, most businesses have no idea what the latest features are that Google does or doesn’t offer, so the team set out to develop a training system that is accessible to the Average Joe, regardless of technical proficiency.
Malhotra says that Synergyse works for each of the major versions of Google Apps, for Businesses, Schools and consumers and, because it’s a Chrome extension and built on top of Google’s Cloud Platform, Synergyse is able to integrate its training system more effectively throughout the Google ecosystem, while offering security and scalability. Or at least that’s the idea.
Furthermore, Synergyse hopes to appeal to businesses by offering training from directly inside of Google Apps so that you don’t have to leave an application to learn how to use it and can take actions at the same time. The system is available to users at any time, so employees can learn at their own pace and roll through training sessions whenever they have time. For its tutorials, the startup actually doesn’t use video, the founder says, instead living inside your Google Apps account, overlaying instruction on your screen as you go, prompting people to click through Apps and input actual info from within their Gmail accounts.
Malhotra also tells us that the startup wants to make sure that users don’t have to deal with constant updates and downloads, so as new products and tools are added to Google’s productivity suite, the system updates alongside it, automatically adding new training materials to the apps. Once teams have started using the extension, execs and admins can also tap into reporting options to help track and measure the success of the training system for their employees.
The catalog of lessons were designed by Synergyse CTO Majid Manzarpour, who was “responsible for training Canada how to use Google Apps,” while working at Google as its “sole IT contact for the entire Canadian region” beginning in 2007, he says. In other words, he knows what he’s doing, and, because they’re Canadian, the tutorials are friendly. So there’s that, too.
Synergyse pricing starts at $10/year for individuals, is free for students and costs businesses $10/employee/year. It also offers an Enterprise option for companies with more than 5,000 employees, with price set on a case-by-case basis.
For more, find the startup at home here.
Go here to read the rest: Former Googlers Launch Synergyse, An Interactive In-App Training Service For Google Apps
On its FQ3 earnings conference call on Thursday, Microsoft confirmed that it is working on smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets that are expected to arrive in coming months.
Seattle Times reporter Janet Tu paraphrased the comment as:
Microsoft CFO Peter Klein confirms company is working w/OEMs on smaller devices, at lower price points, to be available in coming months.
Earlier this month, talk of a 7-inch Surface tablet picked up, with The Wall Street Journal suggesting that the new line could go into production later this year.
Microsoft announced fiscal third quarter revenue of $20.49 billion, and earnings per share of $0.72. Also of note, Klein announced he will step down as CFO by the end of fiscal 2013. The company plans to promote a member of its financial leadership team in the next few weeks.
Bloomberg estimated in March that Microsoft had sold 1.5 million Surface tablets, 400,000 of which were the Windows 8-powered Surface Pro. While the number is believed to be below the company’s own expectations, it’s still enough to make its own tablet business a $1 billion segment.
Microsoft and its OEMs are likely feeling the pressure to ramp up their tablet business. PC shipments declined a shocking 13.9 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013 , according to IDC’s estimates. The market research firm expects Windows to have just a 2.8 percent share of the tablet market by the end of this year, though that number is projected to grow to 7.4 percent by 2017.
Image credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / Getty Images