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Apple’s laptop charger, the MagSafe, is wonderful. Few other hardware makers have such an elegant way to charge their devices. Apple’s Lightning cable is pretty well-designed too, but what if iPhones could also use a magnetic charger ? That’s what a new battery case Kickstarter called Cabin is promising. Cabin is primarily a new battery case: its main product adds an 2200mAh external battery to your device, as other battery cases available on the market do. But it also comes with two very interesting accessories. First, there’s something called MicroAdapter, a little plug-in for the iPhone’s lightning port that turns it into a magnetic socket. That pairs very well with MagAdapter, which plugs into the end of a Lightning cable. Plug a MagAdapter-equipped Lightning cable into an iPhone with a MicroAdapter, and you’ve got yourself a bootleg MagSafe-style setup. Of course, you won’t be able to plug a MagAdapter-equipped Lightning cable into a Macbook. Even if the MagAdapter were to fit into MagSafe sockets, it still wouldn’t work, because laptops need much higher voltage than a USB can provide. At the time of publication, the Cabin Kickstarter has raised $70,000, more than the $50,000 it was seeking to raise, aalthough it’s not a sure thing that it will make it to market. The product needs a variety of security certifications and licenses before it can be sold commercially. And in the past Apple has put an end to MagSafe ripoffs fairly quickly — especially if they’re manufactured in places like Shenzhen, which Cabin is. Still, a magnetic charger for the iPhone could be pretty nice. If you’re willing to take the risk, backing the Kickstarter to the tune of $99 will net you a Cabin battery case, a MicroAdaptor and a MagAdaptor.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How Apple’s HomeKit will change the smart home marketWhat the first-quarter 2014 meant for tech buyersWhat the global tablet market will look like by 2017

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Continuuity, the self-proclaimed big data PaaS startup has open sourced Tephra, a transaction engine tailored for Apache HBase, the NoSQL database that runs on top of the Hadoop Distributed File System. While the startup uses HBase as a way to store data for its Reactor application development platform, the company found that HBase was not deal for applications that require many updates to the data across multiple subsets of the total system, explained Continuuity CEO Jonathan Gray. With HBase, a user can only update a single database region, which consists of a group of rows for a given database; if a person were to attempt to update multiple regions, it’s likely that a lot of errors could occur as the database wasn’t designed to do so. To solve that problem Continuuity created Tephra, which acts as a sort of automatic data updater for HBase that allows for multiple regions of the database to be altered without causing concern that bad data might be entered. Here’s how developers could use Tephra, per a Continuuity blog post: Developers typically create secondary indexes on HBase by writing updates to a second table with additional rows that reference the rows in the main table based on the index values. The problem is that there isn’t consistency in operations across the two tables, so they can get out of sync. Based on their actual data access patterns and what their application cares about, developers are forced to adopt more complicated application logic to manage the data and work around the inconsistencies. In contrast, Tephra simplifies this use case by allowing updates to both tables to be performed in a single globally consistent transaction. Continuuity Tephra can also integrate with MongoDB, LevelDB and other relational databases and data warehouses. “One of the goals of Tephra was not to just be for HBase,” said Gray. “We have built it with the notion that you can do transactions across multiple systems.” Tephra transaction life cycle The startup currently uses Tephra to handle transactions for the stream-processing technology jetStream, developed by Continuuity and AT&T Labs, said Gray. Contiuuity isn’t the only company tweaking HBase for better performance. Facebook last month showed off Hydrabase, an updated version of HBase, that shortens the amount of lag that occurs whenever a region server fails.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Gigaom Research predictions for 2014How data warehousing is now a cost-effective solution for businessesSector RoadMap: SQL-on-Hadoop platforms in 2013

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There’s now less small tablet choice in the U.S. Lenovo, the world’s largest PC maker based on sales, is no longer selling Windows tablets under 10 inches in size, based on a lack of U.S. market demand. The company shared the news with PC World in an email, saying “In North America, we’re seeing stronger interest in the larger screen sizes for Windows tablets and are pleased with initial customer demand for the ThinkPad 10.” That means the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 and smaller version of the Mix 2 — Lenovo sells a 10.1-inch model — are both disappearing from store shelves and Lenovo’s U.S. retail site. Remaining stock will be diverted to other countries where demand is higher for lower-cost, small Windows tablets. That includes Brazil, China, and Japan, according to the company. Both tablets run the full version of Windows, not the ARM-powered Windows RT software. Microsoft has long been expected to debut its own small Windows tablet, likely running Windows RT, but the rumored plans were put off earlier this year. That could be due to the lack of a more touch-optimized version of Microsoft Office for the smaller screen. Or the company may have data similar to what Lenovo has: In the U.S. consumers either don’t want or need Windows on a small screen, at least not when current prices pit the devices squarely against less-expensive or comparably priced Android tablets. If that’s the case, the situation may change a little by year’s end. Microsoft has already eliminated its Windows licensing fees for devices with screens measuring 9 inches or less. That could reduce prices, as Microsoft recently noted at its Windows Partner Conference. I’ve also noticed falling prices of small Windows tablets over the past six months or so. The Dell Venue 8 Pro I bought earlier this year can now be had for about $50 less; with a starting price now at $249, you get a pretty capable Windows slate. Still, these devices compete with tablets such as the Nexus 7, which has a high-resolution display and only costs $229 to start. It’s notable that Lenovo isn’t stopping sales of its small Android tablets, just the ones that run Windows. The market isn’t suggesting there isn’t demand for small slates; instead, it’s saying there isn’t demand for small slates running Windows just yet.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What mattered in social business in the first quarter of 2014An analysis of Windows Azure’s strengths and weaknessesGigaom Research predictions for 2014

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At the end of last year the European Commission, along with European national authorities, told Google and Apple that they needed to sort out issues around in-app purchases – particularly as they relate to children who may unwittingly rack up huge bills for their parents to pay. On Friday the Commission reported back on the progress that’s been made so far. And while it’s happy overall, it’s a lot more so with Google’s response than it is with Apple’s. While Google is making a bunch of consumer protection changes that will be in place by the end of September, Apple has given “no firm commitment and no timing” for making its own app ecosystem less risky for parents and those who don’t pay sufficient attention. Perhaps Cupertino might care to see what Google’s committed itself to doing, in line with the guidelines set out in late 2013: Games that feature in-app purchases will no longer be advertised as “free.” App developers will be discouraged from “direct exhortation to children,” meaning they won’t have prompts to make in-app purchases that specifically target kids. By default, in-app purchase payments can’t go through without authorization each time they occur. In all fairness, since the introduction of iOS 4.3 back in 2011, Apple has required a password for each in-app purchase that’s made more than 15 minutes after the last. That’s not much use if the “buy more gems” prompts are coming in thick and fast, though. Apple told the Guardian: “The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We’ve also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.” Online game developers and platforms are also being asked to work out similar measures, although their associations — the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) and the International Social Games Association (ISGA) – only joined the discussions early this year. If they and Apple don’t play ball, enforcement would be down to the national consumer protection authorities of the various European member states.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How Apple’s HomeKit will change the smart home marketHow the mobile payment market is shaping up in 2014A market analysis of emerging technology interfaces

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Amazon has officially launched Kindle Unlimited, the $9.99/month ebook and audiobook subscription service we told you about on Wednesday. The details are, pretty much, what was already leaked. The service is only available in the U.S. for now. About 640,000 titles are available, the bulk of them from Amazon’s own publishing imprints or by self-published authors who’d previously enrolled their books in Kindle Select. There are books from traditional publishers as well — no big-5 publishers, but Abrams, Algonquin, Workman, Open Road and Bloomsbury, among others. 2,000 audiobooks from Audible are included, and a membership to Kindle Unlimited comes with a free three-month Audible subscription. One splashy series of note that is available: The first three books in the bestselling eight-book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, published by Abrams. There’s a 30-day free trial. “With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre—you can just start reading and listening,” Russ Grandinetti, SVP of Kindle, said in a statement. said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle. “In addition to offering over 600,000 ebooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy.”  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014How to unlock the promise of agile in the enterpriseSector RoadMap: Content personalization in 2013

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One of the clearest implications of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations has been that cloud computing is a big problem – by creating a centralized data repository, the model makes it easier for law enforcement and spies to access users’ data through programs such as PRISM. Obviously that creates a massive trust issue. That said, Snowden doesn’t think cloud computing is doomed. In an interview with the Guardian published on Thursday, he said cloud providers could remain safe-to-use by being more encryption-friendly. What you can trust and what you can’t “What cloud companies need to pursue in order to be truly successful is what’s called a zero knowledge system, which means the service providers host and process content on behalf of customers but they don’t actually know what it is,” Snowden said. “That’s the only way they can prove to the customers that they can be trusted with their information.” Snowden pointed to Spideroak as a good example, because they’ve “structured their system in such a way, you can store all of your information on it, but they literally have no access to the content of that information.” “So while yeah, they could be compelled to turn it over, the law enforcement agencies still have to go to a judge and get a warrant to actually get your encryption key from you,” he said, contrasting this with Dropbox, a “wannabe PRISM partner” that put former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “probably the most anti-privacy official you can imagine,” on its board of directors. The former NSA systems administrator, who currently has temporary asylum in Russia, said he didn’t use Skype nor Google for personal communications (he has used them to appear on-screen at international conferences in the last year.) “We shouldn’t trust them without verifying what their activities are, how they’re using our data, and deciding for ourselves whether it’s appropriate where they draw the lines,” he said. Oversight issues Snowden also said it was common for NSA analysts to pass around nude photos of people in sexually compromising positions, derived from those people’s internet usage, amongst themselves for ogling. “Sooner or later this person’s whole life has been seen by all these other people. It’s never reported. Nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak,” he said, adding that this is “seen as sort of the fringe benefits of surveillance positions.” The NSA has responded by saying the agency has “zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities or professional standards,” but it didn’t actually deny that such passing-around takes place. It can’t, of course, if such incidents are never reported. On a similar theme, Snowden said digital illiteracy among lawmakers was “probably the single most important factor that explains the failures in oversight that we’ve seen in almost every western government.” “We need to think of it in terms of literacy because technology is a new system of communication, it’s a new set of symbols that people have to intuitively understand,” he said. A very similar thought was expressed on Wednesday by web entrepreneur and British peer Martha Lane-Fox, when bemoaning the fact that others in the House of Lords were ill-equipped to examine a new U.K. surveillance law that was fast-tracked through the parliamentary process this week. “All pieces of legislation will soon have aspects of technology at their core and our ability to scrutinize effectively will rely on a deeper understanding than currently exists,” she said.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Who to watch in the growing European cloud marketGigaom Research predictions for 2014Consumer products will drive enterprise breakthroughs

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The trick to leveraging managed big data services is determining which projects are good candidates for outsourcing and then finding a service provider that can deliver immediate value while also reducing administrative risks and infrastructure costs. Table of Contents Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What developers should know when choosing mobile backend as a serviceWhat mattered in cloud in the second quarter of 2014How to utilize cloud computing, big data, and crowdsourcing for an agile enterprise

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Even as Aereo touched off an epic legal fight with broadcasters at the Supreme Court, it was unclear just how many people were paying to use the streaming TV service. This week, a potential clue emerged via a letter from the Copyright Office that cited Aereo’s submission of “royalty and filing fees totaling $5,310.74″ for the period of January 1, 2012 until December 31, 2013. The letter appeared on Thursday, and came in response to Aereo’s application to pay cable royalties under the Copyright Act’s statutory licensing rules. The $5,310 number is significant because it represents a percentage of total revenue during the period for Aereo, which shut its service last month in response to a Supreme Court ruling. On Twitter, law professor Bruce Boyden suggested that the number reflected subscriber revenues of around $1 million for the period: #Aereo tendered fee of ~$5k for 2012-13. Equates to gross receipts from subs of ~$1m over 2 yrs.— Bruce Boyden (@BruceBoyden) July 17, 2014 Boyden’s figure is an estimate, but it appears consistent with the numbers set out in Section 111 of the Copyright Act (which sets out rates ranging from 0.33 to 1.064 percent of a cable provider’s gross receipts). And, as the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner noted, that $1 million figure in turn provides a proxy for the number of Aereo subscribers. Since Aereo’s basic subscription was $8/month, or about $100 a year, it appears unlikely that the company, which was operating in New York and a dozen other cities, had more than 100,000 paying subscribers. (The $1 million figure represents total revenue for nearly two years so, even if all that revenue came from 2013, that would be equivalent to the annual payments of only 10,000 people). Of course, there are some big caveats here: we don’t know, for instance, how quickly Aereo was adding subscribers, including in 2014 when the service expanded to more cities and began receiving a flood of media attention. Likewise, the revenue figure is not an exact proxy for Aereo’s popularity since, in many cases, multiple people would have shared one account. Also, the revenue figure does not reflect Aereo’s future potential since the company likely held back on expansion and marketing pending the outcome of its court case. That said, the apparently low number is perhaps remarkable given the sky-is-falling reaction that Aereo engendered in TV industry circles. Aereo did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. There have been other guesses at Aereo’s numbers. In October of 2013, the Wall Street Journal estimated Aereo’s subscribers by counting lit boxes at its Brooklyn facility. The Journal guessed that Aereo had 100,000 subscribers in New York alone, thought that was never confirmed and was higher than what others in the industry had speculated. For now, Aereo’s future is highly uncertain as it tries to navigate its legal status before the Copyright Office and the courts. The next significant milestone may come this month when a New York judge is expected to rule on how an injunction should apply to Aereo.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Connected-consumer second-quarter 2014: analysis and outlookHow Content Bundles Could Make Cord Cutting Mainstream

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If you were looking for another way to cement Twitter into your daily life, the company just provided one: shopping. Twitter announced Thursday that it was buying CardSpring, a startup that has built an e-commerce platform that lets people sign up for deals or even purchase items directly from a tweet or other forms of social media. Twitter has already been dabbling in the mobile payments and e-commerce space, working with American Express, Amazon and Starbucks to push offers, fill your online shopping cart and even buy friends coffee drinks all within tweets. Buying CardSpring though would allow it to scale down to the local business level. Merchants could offer promotions or discounts in their Twitter feeds, which customers could register for using their Twitter credentials and later take advantage of in an online or brick-and-mortar store. Twitter didn’t disclose any details on the purchase price.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The mobile shopping apps consumers value mostSector RoadMap: Content personalization in 2013How businesses can provide mobile application discovery and promotion

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Google’s quarterly infrastructure spending has been skyrocketing for several quarters now, and the past three months were no exception. Google spent nearly $2.67 billion on data centers during the second quarter — more than $1 billion over last year’s second quarter and more than triple what it spent two years ago. ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-601d10c4944dd4dc1e23dadbcb7f5468-53c8559d74184'); if ( iframe ) { iframe.submit(); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )(); Google is now knee-deep in numerous infrastructure-intensive fields, but I suspect its major push into cloud computing is a big contributor to the record spending. As Google Fellow and Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle explained at our Structure conference last month, the company expects its cloud platform to be a major line of business going forward and it’s spending more money than anybody else to ensure its infrastructure is up to the task. Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center marketsHow the mobile-first world will transform the data centerWhat mattered in cloud in the second quarter of 2014

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Google’s Q2 revenue grew by more than 20 percent compared with the same quarter of last year, beating the consensus expectations of Wall Street analysts, but the company’s bottom line was smaller than expected: excluding one-time expenses, Google reported earnings of $6.08 per share — lower than the $6.25 that Wall Street stock-watchers were expecting. Although the company doesn’t comment on expectations, it did say that spending had increased, primarily as a result of data center construction. The company’s revenues totalled $15.96 billion — up 22 percent year-over-year — compared with consensus estimates of $15.61 billion, and earnings after taking into account spending related to stock-based compensation and other expenses hit $3.42 billion or $4.99 per share. After excluding those costs, earnings totaled $4.18 billion. One of the metrics that analysts and investors have been watching closely at Google is the cost-per-click related to the company’s ads (the amount Google gets paid by advertisers for each click), whether on its own Google-owned and operated sites such as YouTube or on the sites of partners who belong to AdSense or AdMob networks. The cost-per-click on both its own and its partner properties declined again in the most recent quarter, dropping by 6 percent. For the first time, Google has started breaking out the figures for its cost-per-click on its own sites versus those of its network partners, and the difference is fairly dramatic: on Google owned and operated sites, CPC was down 7 percent in the quarter, but for network sites it was down almost twice as much at 13 percent. The growth of mobile usage has been a big part of this decline, since mobile ads tend to cost less. Google’s capital expenditures hit $2.65 billion, up from $2.35 billion in the first quarter and $1.6 billion in the second quarter of last year. Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said on the company’s conference call with analysts that the higher spending was a result of data center construction and real estate acquisitions, and that investors “should see it as a positive signal, a sign of our sustained optimism about Google’s business.” Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user AffiliateRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What We Can Learn From comScore’s Year in ReviewRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big dataWhat first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile space

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MIT researchers have created a new network-management system, called Fastpass, that they say cuts down on the long wait times that occur during periods of heavy network congestion. The research team will present its findings during the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication conference in mid August. In a data center, every time a person makes a request, multiple packets of data have to get passed around via a router from one end to the other. When a lot of people are making requests, these data packets can end up getting clogged in the router as the router sets aside the data packets it can’t handle in a queue. Diagram showing reduced latency At the heart of the appropriately named Fastpass system is a centralized server called an arbiter. The MIT researchers claim that each time a router or some other network node like a switch or a bridge wants to shoot out data based on a user request, it first passes the request over to the arbiter, which acts as a sort of overseer of all network nodes and requests. Based on the arbiter’s knowledge of the networking system as well as handy timeslot allocation and path assignment algorithms, it can determine the best networking route and time to send the request through in order to prevent a data packet pileup. An excerpt from the MIT research paper describes the technical aspects of the Fastpass system: Endpoints communicate with the arbiter using the Fastpass Control Protocol (FCP). FCP is a reliable protocol that conveys the demands of a sending endpoint to the arbiter and the allocated timeslot and paths back to the sender. FCP must balance conflicting requirements: it must consume only a small fraction of network bandwidth, achieve low latency, and handle packet drops and arbiter failure without interrupting endpoint communication. FCP provides reliability using timeouts and ACKs of aggregate demands and allocations. Endpoints aggregate allocation demands over a few microseconds into each request packet sent to the arbiter. This aggregation reduces the overhead of requests, and limits queuing at the arbiter. MIT The MIT team apparently tested out Fastpass in a Facebook data center and found that the average queue length of the routers was cut down by 99.6 percent. Even during periods of heavy network traffic, the time it took for a request to be sent and retrieved was reduced from 3.56 microseconds to 0.23 microseconds.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Gigaom Research predictions for 2014How to cost-efficiently increase efficiency in the data centerHow the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center markets

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In news that surprised no one, Hewlett-Packard named Meg Whitman as its latest chairman of the board on Thursday. Ralph Whitworth, who had been serving in that post, resigned earlier this week citing his health. In other news, incumbent director Pat Russo is now the lead independent director and HP named Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO and chairman of Alcoa, was named to the board. Whitman was named president and CEO of HP in September 2011, after the  troubled tenure of Leo Apotheker who lasted less than a year. On Thursday, HP’s board also declared a cash dividend of $0.16 per share on the company’s common stock, payable on October 1, 2014.    Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What developers should know when choosing an MBaaS solutionWhat’s next in the world of software-defined networkingHow data warehousing is now a cost-effective solution for businesses

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Google’s Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora is leaving, the company announced as part of its earnings release Thursday. Arora will be heading to Softbank, where he will become Vice Chairman, as well as CEO of the subsidiary SoftBank Internet and Media. Omid Kordestani, who up until now served as a senior advisor to Google CEO Larry Page, will be taking over Arora’s duties on an interim basis. Arora joined Google in 2004, and took over as Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer in early 2011. He’s been a key part of Google’s earnings calls, which he has been live tweeting as well, so it’s only fitting that he announced his departure on Twitter as well: Thank you googlers for your support and love in the last 10 years. Will miss all of you. Looking forward to the next adventure.— Nikesh Arora (@nikesharora) July 17, 2014 Arora’s departure is just the latest in a string of management shake-ups for Google. Earlier this year, it parted ways with Vic Gundotra, who was the driving force behind Google+ and the longtime face of Google’s developer efforts. And in February, the company put veteran ad executive Susan Wojcicki in charge of YouTube.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhat mattered in cloud in the second quarter of 2014How streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom line

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No, the included watch faces on Android Wear smartwatches won’t be the only ones you can choose from. You’ll eventually be able to download new ones from the Play Store, but Google isn’t quite ready for that yet. In a Google+ post on Thursday, Wayne Piekarski, a Senior Developer Advocate at Google, said the company is working on a API developers can use to create watch faces. Of course — and and somewhat typical for many early Google products — developers aren’t waiting for the API. Earlier this week we saw a Star Trek themed Android Wear watch face, for example, and that’s not the only one available.   It’s not yet time for these, says Piekarski. “As we work on finalizing the API, we would suggest not posting your apps publicly to Google Play until there is a stable, published API (we’d suggest using Alpha or Beta channels, available through the Play Developer Console, in the meantime). These changes mentioned above are coming soon and will make it easier for you to create great watch faces, but the existing unpublished API may not be compatible with the next Android Wear release, and no one wants to disrupt the experience for users in the future.” The suggestion makes sense but I suspect it will on some deaf ears. One of the more attractive features of Android is how customizable it is and how much you can tinker with it. We saw the same situation when Google’s Chromecast launched: Apps to extend the functionality of the streaming stick quickly appeared in the Play Store using an early version of the SDK. As Google changed the SDK, these apps lost functionality or were simply broken. For now, I anticipate more Android Wear watch faces to appear in the Play Store, even if that’s not what Google desires. Developers won’t likely want to wait on the official API, which may not appear until the Android L release later this year, just to create official Android Wear watch faces. At that point, I’d expect — or at least hope) developers retool their watch faces with the official API to be fully optimized for the Android Wear user interface and for battery life.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How businesses can provide mobile application discovery and promotionWhat first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceHow to manage mobile security through productivity

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Intel announced on Thursday that it has created a customized version of its Xeon E7 x2 processor that is tailored to work with Oracle software. The new chip will supposedly allow for better performing Oracle applications that can handle more tasks than they could previously handle. Essentially, Oracle’s new Exadata Database Machine X4-8, used for data warehousing and resource-heavy tasks like online transaction processing (OLTP) and in-memory workloads, is powered by the new Intel customizable silicon. Using the new processor, the Oracle machines can now be controlled via software to make changes on the fly to better allocate resources when necessary. The news highlights two recent developments by both Oracle and Intel in recent months. Last month at Structure, Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center group, explained how Intel developed a customizable chip that links together a Xeon processor and a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Using the FPGA in conduction with the processor supposedly results in a much more efficient chip that can be used for complex tasks like translating search algorithms and compressing genetic data, Bryant said. Last month also saw Oracle announcing its In Memory Option software to be used as an add-on to the company’s database lineup for enhanced real-time analytics and transactional workloads. Today’s announcement shows the advent of more specialized chips needed for more specialized workloads. With Intel wanting to ensure that its chip making skills are still a big business while not loosing workloads to OEMS or Arm (or even the cloud), it’s betting there’s money to be had in customizing chips for specific types of jobs.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What to know when choosing database as a serviceWhat mattered in cloud in the second quarter of 2014How streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom line

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Hyper-local news doesn’t exactly have a great track record — at least, not as a business. There’s a litany of failed attempts that stretches back at least a decade, including ventures like Backfence and more recent flame-outs like AOL’s Patch, which chewed through almost half a billion dollars. But that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from trying to make it work. Among the latest efforts are a bevy of Brooklyn-based blogs and a new project from Jim Brady, a former Washington Post digital executive who knows a thing or two about failure. Brady’s project is still in the formative stages, but at the moment it is called Brother.ly, and it’s aimed at the Philadelphia news market, based in part at Temple University’s Center for Public Interest Journalism. And if there is a region that seems to need help in the local news department, Philadelphia definitely qualifies: the city’s leading newspaper has suffered from a rather dramatic decline, not to mention boardroom antics among its owners. In an interview with the Poynter Institute, Brady said that he is investing “in the mid six figures” of his own money in Brother.ly, and that despite the less-than-impressive history of hyperlocal news ventures — including the ones he himself has been involved in — he is optimistic about his chances: “The best that could happen is I go off and I build this thing and it’s really successful. The second best thing that could happen is I build this thing and it fails. But the worst thing is I get halfway and never find out.” First TBD, then Project Thunderdome Getting halfway and never finding out is not a bad description of what happened to the two large — and much-celebrated — hyperlocal news ventures that Brady helmed that eventually cratered and/or were shut down: the first was known as TBD, a project backed by businessman Richard Allbritton that planned to cover the Washington D.C. area, in part via a partnership with local blogs. Before it even managed to hit its stride, however, it was dismantled by Allbritton, due to what appeared to be a lack of faith in the financial viability of the model. From there, Brady moved to Digital First Media — owner of a string of daily and weekly papers in the U.S. Northeast, and run by digital-first evangelist John Paton — where he started something called Project Thunderdome, an effort to centralize some of the coverage and content (and skills) that were required by its chain of largely small-town newspapers. In April, Digital First shut the project down, saying the financial returns didn’t justify the resources invested in it. Brady told Poynter that the failure of TBD has been in the back of his mind ever since it ended, in part because he believes the approach could have worked — and Brother.ly will involve many of the same aspects, including a network of local blogs. The idea is to create a site with a strong connection to a local readership, Brady said, and not just one that tries to monetize its relationship with readers via advertising, but one with multiple revenue models based on community: member forums that readers can belong to, live events that bring the community together, and so on. He said the idea is to “monetize passions, not pageviews.” Hyperlocal has to be about community The concept of organizing a local blog network as part of a hyperlocal news strategy is also behind a media venture called Corner Media, which the New York Times recently profiled. The company, which is run by blogger and editor Liena Zagare, operates a number of Brooklyn neighborhood blogs such as South Slope News and Fort Greene Focus that reach a combined readership of about 250,000. And now Ned Burke, who started and ran two local blogs — Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean — has merged his properties with Corner Media. Zagare actually ran a series of similar hyperlocal blogs and sold it to Patch in 2011, and worked for the AOL unit as a director of special projects before leaving to start another blog network. “It makes me sad to look at Patch, because I think it can work,” she told the Times. Although her network is not profitable, Berke’s blogs apparently are, and he told the paper he believes there is “a business in doing good for the community.” And being embedded in those communities is a huge part of the model, both said. As the NYT put it: “The blogs tell you when the local subway lines are not running, mount minicampaigns to fix up playgrounds and traffic lights, and list ways for residents to contact elected officials and city agencies. They cheer for the new restaurants spotted around the neighborhood, highlight local events and profile community notables.” Although there have been many failures both large and small in the hyperlocal news market, there have also been some success stories — sites like Howard Owens’ Batavian, the West Seattle blog or Baristanet — and in almost every case they are not large industrial projects like Patch but what Zagare describes (and I have also described) as “artisanal” journalism, driven by individuals with a keen interest in their communities. Whether Corner Media and Brother.ly will join the list of success stories or the list of ambitious failures remains to be seen. Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Thinkstock / Digital VisionRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Integrating Social Media and Traditional EntertainmentCommunications, Platforms, Privacy Ruled NewNet in Q4What new identity management solutions can offer today’s enterprise

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posted 6 days ago on gigaom
During the second quarter of 2014 we saw the rise of Docker as well as a few providers pushing harder to the cloud, the government finally beginning to make significant movement to the cloud, and the IaaS market looking less and less like a single provider’s domain. Table of Contents

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posted 6 days ago on gigaom
It’s been a good year for patent trolls, and now the biggest troll of them all wants to keep the party going: a report reveals that Intellectual Ventures has acquired more than 200 new patents, which will help IV extend its legal tentacles in fields like wireless infrastructure and cloud computing. In case you’re unfamiliar, IV’s peculiar brand of innovation involves acquiring old patents and using them to arm thousands of shell companies, whose sole business is to extract licensing fees from productive businesses. News of IV’s restocked war chest comes after earlier reports that initial investors, including Apple, had declined to participate in IV’s newest trolling fund. According to the report, by law firm Richardson Oliver and spotted by IAM, the fund is on track since IV purchased 16 percent of all available patent packages in the first half of 2014. A chart by the firm suggests it paid $1-$2 million in most cases; here’s a partial look: Source: Richardson Oliver. http://www.richardsonoliver.com/news/2014/7/16/intellectual-ventures-is-buying-again The chart shows six patents related to the cloud computing industry, which has so far escaped the rampant patent trolling that has plagued mobile phone and app developers, but could now be prime picking for IV in the coming year. IV is well-positioned to exploit the patents thanks to Senate Democrats, who in May killed a bipartisan reform bill that would have undercut many of the economic incentives for patent trolling. IV has also been active on the lobbying front, filing to start a PAC this year and donating sums of money to Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il), who is closely allied to the trial lawyer lobby that reportedly helped to derail reform. If there’s a dark cloud for IV, however, it may be the growing public skepticism towards patent trolls, who now account for 67 percent of all new lawsuits. The trolls have received harsh treatment from the likes of NPR and the New York Times, while the Supreme Court’s repeated criticism of slip-shod patents may finally be making it harder for companies to abuse them. Meanwhile, respected tech figures like Marco Arment have lashed out at IV’s business model as “cowardly” while inventors like Tesla’s Elon Musk have questioned the value of patents to begin with.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The legal challenges and opportunities for 3D printingAndroid’s challenges spell opportunity for Windows PhoneMobile Q3: the fight for OS domination continues

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Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Microsoft troops how important Xbox is to the company’s overall strategy. This week the company said it plans to close Xbox Entertainment Studios as part of wide-ranging layoffs. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the news, first reported by Recode,  via email, writing: “As Satya said last week, Xbox is important to Microsoft.  Games are the single biggest digital life category in a mobile-first world.  And Xbox is a strong consumer brand with an incredible fan base.  As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of the Xbox vision to focus more on games and gamers, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that we will expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months.” The statement added that some projects will continue with Entertainment & Digital Media president Nancy Tellem, EVP Jordan Levin and a subset of the XES team staying on. Those projects include the Signal to Noise documentary series and Halo: Nightfall as well as the Halo TV series. Collaborative projects with partners will also continue. The studio was founded two years ago when Microsoft hired Tellem from CBS to create non-game content for Xbox. The plan was that Xbox and then Xbox One would anchor Microsoft’s presence in the living room, becoming a hub for not only gaming, but TV, interactive video formats and other content. In February, 2013 the company announced plans to launch original interactive programming.      Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What mattered in cloud in the second quarter of 2014How streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom line3 strategies for for defining your mobile-content management approach

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Forget sapphire glass. A new process recently discovered by material scientists produces glass screens that are almost water- and glare-proof. Dealing with glare in bright light is one of the biggest problems with smartphones. A new paper out of the Institute for Photonic Sciences in Barcelona (ICFO) in conjunction with Corning — the makers of Gorilla Glass — describes a way to fabricate screens that are more glare and reflection resistant than glasses currently on the market. The ICFO team, led by industrial professor Valerio Pruneri, created the glass by using acid and copper nanoparticles to add texture at micro and nano scales. First, they roughed up a glass surface at the micro level, which causes light to scatter in many directions instead of reflecting directly back at the person looking at the glass. Then the researchers etched nano-sized teeth into the surface to reduce reflectivity. Both types of incisions in the glass are too small to affect transparency. The key to the new glass surface is that it combines both micro- and nanoscale textures. The micro level texture fights off glare and the anti-reflection nanoscale surface is applied on top of that. The larger texture helps protect the smaller, nano-sized surface. As an added bonus, the researchers found the glass surface repelled water significantly better than conventional glass. Although the team says the process is inexpensive to produce and easy to scale, further research is needed to ensure the surface is as durable as modern smartphone glass. But considering the research was funded and conducted in part by Corning, one of the largest American manufacturers of glass and ceramics, it’s likely an industrial researcher is looking into that now.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Rethinking innovation: How to manage ideas systematically

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Remember that Firefox OS-powered Chromecast competitor we told you about last month? The project is alive and well, according to an article published on the Mozilla blog Thursday. The blog post pointed to various advances of Mozilla’s Firefox OS, including new mobile partnerships in Europe and Asia, and also mentioned the streaming stick: “Abitcool will launch an HDMI streaming device later this year that allows the user to fling content from compatible mobile or Web apps to an HDTV.” Abitcool, the company that’s making the stick in partnership with Mozilla, said on its website that its first product is “still under wraps.” However, we were able to get our hands on one of the sticks last month, and demonstrate that it doens’t just work like Google’s Chromecast, but actually even works with some Chromecast apps. Check out the video below for a demo of the still-unnamed streaming device: Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Where new opportunity lies in the mobile operating system spaceA look back at this year’s CES and what it means for tech in 2014How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience

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posted 6 days ago on gigaom
A startup called PredictionIO has raised $2.5 million in seed capital to help it try and make a business out of open source machine learning software. Unlike previous open source projects, though, PredictionIO is designed to be easy to get started with and use, even by developers who aren’t data scientists. PredictionIO claims developers can be writing predictive models for their applications in minutes, primarily it seems around things such as recommendation and personalization. The software is available as a download or as cloud instance on Amazon Web Services. The company itself is part of three startup accelerators – MozillaWebFWD, 500Startups and StartX. A shot of what the PredictionIO desktop app looks like. Machine learning is a potentially lucrative software market, and PredictionIO is tackling it by trying to split the difference between open source and proprietary tools. Open source software is popular — in machine learning that includes projects such as Mahout, scikit-learn and, at some point, Oryx — but often hard to deploy and use. Commercial software is getting much better — including with the release of GraphLab Create and Microsoft’s new Azure machine learning service — but can be too much like a black box, PredictionIO contends. However, operating in the middle ground also opens a company up to the risk of fighting competition on two fronts. It could be that developers don’t mind a black-box approach at all, especially as more proprietary tools continue to improve functionality, even into advanced algorithms, and are delivered as cloud services and APIs. It could also be that other open source projects with bigger communities will continue to improve, possibly even spinning out a few startups of their own. But spending too much time on business concerns right now might be putting the cart in front of the horse. The bigger picture here is that thanks to PredictionIO — as well as companies including (but not limited to) GraphLab, Expect Labs, Mortar Data, Microsoft, Wise.io, IBM, Google and AlchemyAPI – developers have more options than ever for using machine learning for building smarter applications, without having to be machine learning experts themselves. Time will tell which approaches to productizing these algorithms will survive, but there’s no putting the machine learning genie back into its bottle.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Rethinking the enterprise data archive for big data analytics and regulatory complianceHow to use big data to make better business decisionsCan Facebook or Twitter Spin Off the Next Hadoop?

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The makers of iPhone and iPad apps have a new advertising network to choose from, and it’s a biggie: Amazon announced that its mobile ad network now supports iOS. In a blog post published Thursday, the company outlined how its Amazon Mobile Ads API could be used on iPhones and iPads in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Amazon’s ad support comes in three flavors on iOS, including static click-through banners, rich-media expandable banners, and interstitial ads. Here’s a chart of the various ad sizes developers can work with in their iOS app: Why has it taken so long for Amazon to embrace iOS with ad support? The company was already focused on a bigger, and likely more lucrative, market through availability on Android and its Fire OS devices. Revenues from iOS app users generally come through application purchases and in-app options as opposed to ads. On Android, advertising is a more prominent revenue generator. Still, it makes no sense to ignore the popular iOS platform outright so the move seems like a good one. It could even give Amazon some useful insights into iOS users — something the company can only get through its own apps today, such as Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Music Player and its own Amazon shopping app. This could be a win of sorts for iOS developers as well. While there is no lack of advertising networks that already work with iOS apps, why not take a chance on one of the largest, if not the largest, online retailers around the globe?    Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experienceWhat the global tablet market will look like by 2017The rebirth of hardware demands new definition of design

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For all of our dependency on mobile phones, there are still quite a few places in this world you can’t get a wireless signal, from mountaintops to national parks to rural highways and even the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. A New York City radio hardware startup called goTenna has an interesting new gadget that will keep your phone connected when there’s no cellular or Wi-Fi signal to be found. The goTenna device is a 6-inch long baton that pairs with an iOS or Android device using Bluetooth. It then connects with other goTennas miles away, allowing their paired phones to communicate with one another over peer-to-peer links. goTenna pairs with an iOS or Android device allowing them to send messages and GPS coordinates to other goTenna users It’s an extremely low bandwidth network, so it’s really only useful for send text messages and GPS coordinates, but it’s extremely long-range thanks to the ultra-low-band frequencies 151-154 MHz frequencies goTenna uses. Lower frequencies propagate further and can punch through or wrap around obstacles like trees. To put that in perspective, the lowest-band mobile network in operation today is at 700 MHz, while Wi-Fi starts another 1700 MHz further up the electromagnetic spectrum chart. According to CEO and co-founder Daniela Perdomo, goTenna’s range is only limited by the horizon, allowing its signals to propagate up to nine miles in open environments. As you introduce obstacles, that range decreases, but Perdomo said goTenna is still seeing three to four miles in forested areas and even a mile in dense urban areas like her native Brooklyn. In an situations where the open horizon is greatly extended, say at he top of a mountain, she said, goTenna’s signals can propagate as far as 50 miles. Jorge and Daniela Perdomo, siblings and co-founders of goTenna The network formed by goTenna is completely off the internet grid, so you’re not going to be surfing the web or tweeting with the device. But goTenna has designed a messaging and location-sharing app complete with downloadable maps that will make it very convenient for people in the middle of nowhere to communicate with another and coordinate their movements. “It can be used by two people in the Sahara or 5,000 people at Coachella,” Perdomo said. “We’re flexible.” As you can imagine, the big draw for such a gadget is going to be from the outdoorsy crowd, and Perdomo said goTenna plans to target the device at trekkers, mountain climbers, skiers, hunters, day hikers and the outfitters that supply them (it’s a device that lends itself to renting). But Perdomo readily admits there many other niche markets goTenna could appeal to. There’s the survivalist/militia/soldier-of-fortune crowd and even the growing number of people in all seriousness preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Perdomo thinks it will be a hit with privacy advocates and also used as a means to circumvent government censorship under repressive regimes. Since goTenna’s messages never touch the internet there’s nothing to intercept unless authorities have a radio scanner, and even then all goTenna communications use RSA 1024 encryption, Perdomo said. The device won’t start shipping until this fall, but GoTenna started taking pre-orders on its website today. The cost is $150 for two devices. Why two? Well considering they form a peer-to-peer network, it’s a bit pointless to buy one.  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How Apple’s HomeKit will change the smart home marketWhere the internet of things and health care meetHow mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014

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