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SGN TO JAM CITY FOURSQUARE TO PLAYA VISTA.BRANCH MESSENGER TO MINNERPOLIS.

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Jam City

bile game maker SGN renamed itself Jam City last week, seeking to inject more fun into its brand.

For a start-up that makes colorful matching and bubble-bursting games including Juice Jam and Panda Pop, SGN — short for Social Gaming Network — came off as a stodgy and dull, the Culver City company said.

“Put another way, we were a company with memorable products but a forgettable name,” Chris DeWolfe, the Myspace co-founder who runs  Jam City, said in a blog post. He and consultants considered 500 names over a year before deciding on Jam City.

The company says it has nearly 50 million monthly players and five titles among the 100 highest revenue-generating mobile games in the U.S. Sales, derived from purchases of extra features within the apps, are likely to climb as the company explores placing ads in games. Revenue is expected to top $400 million over the next year.

Jam City also has a developed a close relationship with 20th Century Fox. It has made games tied to the media properties “Book of Life” and “Family Guy,” with plans to work on a “Peanuts” title next, the company announced.

Foursquare opens sales office in Playa Vista

A Foursquare dashboard shows how an ad campaign is performing, including whether it's leading consumers to visit desired places.
A Foursquare dashboard shows how an ad campaign is performing, including whether it’s leading consumers to visit desired places. (Foursquare)

Local search company Foursquare is calling Los Angeles home for the first time as it tries to cut advertising and data deals with auto, consumer products and entertainment companies.

A sales and marketing team led by three new employees in Playa Vista will focus on teaching those industries about Foursquare’s ability to profile people’s physical movement and spot trends based on foot traffic, said Steven Rosenblatt, president of the New York City start-up.

The company has amassed a map of places, including restaurants, parks and shops, by allowing users to share their location with friends. It has recorded more than 10 billion digital check-ins at locations in about eight years.

The resulting data gets used not only in Yelp-like apps from Foursquare, but also thousands of other apps including Twitter, Uber and WeChat.

But Foursquare wants to help companies use much of the same data for advertising purposes or market research. The company says it can reach about 150 million devices on behalf of advertisers.

“We can target people based on historical profiles,” Rosenblatt said. “Do we see their phones in movie theaters often? Did we serve them an ad for a movie and did they go to a movie theater? We can prove we can drive awareness.”

The new offerings are selling well, but Foursquare faces competition from Facebook, Los Angeles’ Factual and others.

Workplace app Branch Messenger expands to Minneapolis

After a few weeks this summer working closely with Target executives and other mentors at a start-up boot camp in Minneapolis, workplace chat app Branch Messenger has no plans to leave the city.

The company will continue to be based out of the Idealab business incubation firm in Pasadena. But the decision to expand to Minneapolis demonstrates how the corporate programs for start-ups that have launched in recent years are starting to find their groove.

Branch Chief Executive Atif Siddiqi said the program at Target, run in tandem with the investment group Techstars, helped him focus in on a plan to target big customers.

In Minneapolis, Branch gets closer access to companies like Target, General Mills and Best Buy. And that’s essential for a start-up whose software enables employees within a retail location to swap shifts, plan schedules and talk to co-workers. Employees can use the app for free, but companies can purchase access to manage scheduling and identify trends.

Siddiqi said he hasn’t decided whether the company will raise venture capital funding or rely on sales to fund its expansion.

“We’re looking at all our options,” he said.

Tinder invests in social media app for women

Tinder Chief Executive Sean Rad and Vina founder Olivia June Poole.
Tinder Chief Executive Sean Rad and Vina founder Olivia June Poole. (Tinder)

Tinder has tried to push the idea that it’s an app for meeting new people — and not just people you want to date.

Although the app’s attachment to dating could be hard to shake off, Tinder the company is shaping up to be more.

Last week, the West Hollywood subsidiary of dating giant Match Group announced an investment in Vina, a social media service aimed at helping women find female friends. Tinder also launched Stacks, an app that brings the swiping gesture it popularized to polling friends about any topic.

Tinder said it plans to mentor Vina as the start-up expands worldwide and tries to keep up with fast user growth.

Partnering with a start-up co-founded by two women could polish’s Tinder public image, which was tarnished by a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former female employee that was later settled. People also complain about how Tinder’s emphasis on people’s looks objectifies women.

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GOOGLE LAUNCHES A PODCAST APP FOR ANDROID WITH PERSONALIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

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Google today is introducing a new standalone podcast app for Android. The app, called simply Google Podcasts, will use Google’s recommendation algorithms in an effort to connect people with shows they might enjoy based on their listening habits. While podcasts have previously been available on Android through Google Play Music and third-party apps, Google says the company expects Podcasts to bring the form to hundreds of millions of new listeners around the world. (Google Listen, an early effort to build what was then called a “podcatcher” for Android, was killed off in 2012.)

“There’s still tons of room for growth when it comes to podcast listening,” said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, product manager on the app. Creating a native first-party Android app for podcasts “could as much as double worldwide listenership of podcasts overall,” he said.

Google Podcasts will look familiar to anyone who has used a podcast app before. It lets you search for new podcasts, download them, and play them at your convenience. More than 2 million podcasts will be available on the app on launch day, Google says, including “all of the ones you’ve heard of.”

Open the app, and a section called “For you” shows you new episodes of shows you’ve subscribed to, episodes you’ve been listening to but haven’t finished, and a list of your downloaded episodes. Scroll down, and you’ll see top and trending podcasts, both in general and by category. The podcast player has fewer fine-grained controls than you might be used to from apps like Overcast. You can’t customize the skip buttons or create playlists of podcasts to listen to, for example.

The Podcasts app is integrated with Google Assistant, meaning you can search for and play podcasts wherever you have Assistant enabled. The company will sync your place in a podcast across all Google products, so if you listen to half a podcast on your way home from work, you can resume it on your Google Home once you’re back at the house.

In the coming months, Google plans to add a suite of features to Podcasts that are powered by artificial intelligence. One feature will add closed captions to your podcast, so you can read along as you listen. It’s a feature that could be useful to people who are hard of hearing or for anyone who is listening in a noisy environment. (I usually miss a few minutes of the podcasts I listen to every day, thanks to a noisy subway ride.)

Closed captions also mean that you’ll be able to skip ahead to see what’s coming up later in a show. Eventually, you’ll be able to read real-time live transcriptions in the language of your choice, letting you “listen” to a podcast even if you don’t speak the same tongue as the host.

Google also wants to expand the number of people making podcasts. The company’s research showed that only one-quarter of podcast hosts are female, and even fewer are people of color. In an effort to diversify the field, Google formed an independent advisory board that will consider ways to promote podcast production outside of the handful of major metropolitan areas in the United States that currently dominate the field.

Google will not pay any creators to make podcasts directly, the company said, but it will likely explore ways of giving podcasts from underrepresented creators extra promotion. It’s also examining ways to make recording equipment more accessible to people who can’t afford it.

If you already listen to podcasts on Google Play Music, nothing will change today. But the company made it clear that it plans to focus its future efforts around podcasting in the standalone app.

The Android app can be downloaded here. There are currently no plans for an iOS app.

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HUAWEI MATE 20 PRO TIPPED TO SPORT A 6.9-INCH SAMSUNG OLED DISPLAY

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arlier this month, Huawei introduced the Watch 2 smartwatch with an eSIM and voice call support. Now, a new development claims that the company is procuring OLED displays from Samsung. The South Korean giant is said to have already sent out samples to Huawei, and if all goes well, full scale production is expected to start by Q3 2018. The smartphone to sport these 6.9-inch OLED panels is said to release sometime in the fourth quarter or even early 2019, and we largely expect to see them on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

South Korean media The Bell reports that Samsung is in the process of finalising samples with Huawei for its order of 6.9-inch OLED displays. These large-sized displays are usually seen on Huawei’s P series or Mate series. While the P30 series is not expected to arrive before MWC 2019, the Mate series traditionally arrives sometime in Q4. Furthermore, with the screen size being so large, we expect the Pro version to sport the 6.9-inch display, while the Mate 20 could sport a 6.1-inch or some such.

If Huawei is indeed bringing a 6.9-inch display smartphone, it should easily win the screen size battle, as the iPhone X Plus is expected to sport a 6.5-inch display, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is expected to sport a 6.4-incher. These large sized displays are very popular in the Chinese market, and Huawei wants to meet expectations in its home market. Bigger screens are popular also because of the large text area used by the Chinese language, the report adds. Huawei wouldn’t want to lose its momentum in its biggest market by not staying ahead of its game.

Of course, all of this is based on sheer speculation, and we expect you to take everything with a pinch of salt, till Huawei makes things official.

 

 

Source: Gadget360

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WWDC: WHEN APPLE WATCH BECAME A PLATFORM

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Many incremental improvements mean Apple Watch is becoming more effective for communication, augmentation and more.

Apple’s watchOS 5 plays to the strengths of Apple Watch and opens up some new and interesting ways to develop for and make use of the device.

The enterprise case for Apple Watch

Apple always says its goal with the Apple Watch is to deliver brief and meaningful interactions at exactly the right time.

This dedication to context and convenience means that when the company ships the next iteration of the OS, it will make its solution much more essential to anyone who needs to stay up to date while remaining focused on the matter at hand, or who needs to stay in touch while leaving the phone behind.

Communications boost

Apple Watch is becoming a viable alternative to an iPhone. watchOS 5 builds on the built-in SIM the company put inside the device last year with a series of enhancements:

  • The most immediately useful improvement for most of us will be the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network straight from the Apple Watch.
  • Walkie-talkie lets you contact friends and family just by pushing a button on your device, once you set them up. This works over Wi-Fi and cellular connections, and it can connect people worldwide.
  • You can answer FaceTime and Group FaceTime calls as audio calls on your watch.

In combination with the device’s existing ability to dictate notes and messages, and the new addition of support for looking at websites (see below), Apple Watch has become a powerful communications tool in its own right.

Take notifications

There was a huge cheer at WWDC when Apple announced the introduction of Grouped Notifications on iPhone. This extends to Apple Watch, making it far easier to manage and control the alerts you receive.

The newly introduced Dynamic Notifications feature is something that both public-facing business offering front-end app support to customers and enterprise firms deploying their own proprietary iOS apps will want to explore.

This lets developers add additional steps to a notification — a restaurant may remind you of your booking and ask you to confirm (or change) your arrival time or the number of guests that should be expected. Or a ride sharing app may let you pay, rate, and tip for your ride — all from within the notification.

Finally, Critical Alerts are a new kind of notification intended for extremely urgent alerts. These need to be given explicit user permission to work and are intended to alert wearers to things such as heart rate anomalies or diabetes-related blood sugar warnings.

Siri gets lots better

The updated Siri watch face is a great illustration to show how much smarter Siri has become across all Apple platforms.

Siri will use the watch to provide the wearer with a host of additional predictive and proactive shortcuts throughout the day “… based on routines, locations and information such as heart rate after a workout, commute time with Maps at the appropriate time of day, or sports scores for a favorite team.”

What makes this even more interesting is that it will now show actionable content from third-party apps, which is great for consumer and specialized enterprise apps.

Siri Shortcuts also makes it to the new Apple Watch OS.

Apple is pushing developers to ensure the Apple Watch shortcuts they provide are to the most relevant tasks. The basis for deciding this might be time, location, or app utility (a recipe app may provide a recipe of the day, for example).

What Apple sees as critical is that these notifications are interacted with and truly represent what Apple Watch users need.

App developers need to note that when Siri decides which Shortcuts it will offer on the Siri Watchface, Siri will pay particular attention to how the user has interacted with your app in the past.

Also, you don’t need to say “Hey, Siri” to activate the assistant. All you need to do is start speaking to Siri as you raise the Watch towards you.

The intention is that you will be able to use Siri to get essential tasks done from your Watch, and you will be able to explore new ways to enhance customer and employee experiences when using your app.

The tiny web

Do you remember how Steve Jobs — when announcing the original iPhone — boasted that the iPhone offered people access to the real internet, rather than some stripped-down version?

watchOS 5 brings a little of that same delight and now integrates WebKit support, which means you can use your watch to glance at things such as web links or other items sent to you.

You can control the content, too:

  • Turn the Digitial Crown to scroll the page.
  • Double-tap to zoom in and out.
  • Use Force Touch (a firm press) to invoke back and forward buttons you can use to navigate through your viewing history.

It’s not perfect — you can’t access video playback or web fonts, though you can use your Watch to fill in HTML-based forms. Apple will render pages in Reader Mode when that mode is available.

All the same, some people will wonder if web designers will now need to figure out how to design websites that scale all the way from a Watch to a 30-inch display.

Health and wellness

There are lots of workout improvements in Apple Watch, including auto-workout detection. Not only does your Watch figure out when you are exercising, but it will also terminate a workout once it detects the activity is over. New yoga and hiking workouts and helpful tools for runners makes the device even more useful as part of your general scheme to stay well. And Activity Sharing competitions let you invite others to compete in meeting those activity challenges.

Additional improvements

Control Center lets you put all your toggles in the order you most prefer. You can also get to Notifications and/or Control Center while in any app.

Apple Watch users will gain a new Podcasts app. This will sync with shows, as well as stream any new shows Siri can find on your behalf. Enterprise users and developers will need to know that Apple will now allow audio from third-party apps to sync to the watch for offline playback.

 

 

 

 

Source: Computer World

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