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Social Media Apps/Snapchat/Snap Inc.

Snapchat Follows Predecessors, Jumps Into Hardware

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Snapchat burst onto the scene several years ago with self-deleting images that people could exchange with each other. People could download the free app and use the phone camera to take pictures that they could then send to one, or multiple people. The person could set a timer anywhere from 3-10 seconds after which time the picture would delete. Snapchat quickly realized that there was much more this app could do. In fact, the whole self-deleting idea ended up being a low priority due to the screenshot feature on phones. Snapchat quickly expanded the capabilities of the app, including adding various text, drawing, and photoshop features to the images. As the app proved to be much more than just a one trick pony lasting only a few months, Snapchat added the “my story” features. The app catapulted to more than 150 million users worldwide daily with more than 10 billion videos and people were using the Snapchat app to essentially chronicle their lives in clips and videos for the world to see.

With the massive success, Snapchat was renamed itself Snap, Inc. and released its own line of sunglasses. An instant headline, these glasses come with a video camera that allows people to instantly make videos from their sunglasses to connect with the app. This saves the hassle of taking out the phone, opening the app, and turning on the video camera, by which time the opportunity for video may have long-since passed. The sunglasses will take videos for the standard Snapchat 10 second time frame. The sunglasses are a universal one-size fits all and come in coral, teal, or black. The starting price will be $130.

At merely five years old, Snap has access to some of the top venture capital advisers to the tune of $2 billion. Following the footsteps of Amazon, Google, and Facebook, Snap has made the transition from the virtual space to the hardware arena. Its predecessors have had mixed success with the transition. While time will tell whether Snap’s sunglasses idea will be a hit or a flop, for now it has generated a massive amount of media headlines which has succeeded in generating enough interest in the idea from the general public. Despite the speculation, no one can argue with the success of the app.

Social Media Apps/Spectacles

Snap Inc.’s Spectacles

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Snapchat has become known as one of the most popular social media apps around. The company that creates and controls has just been known as Snapchat since that has always been its sole product. However, that is changing and the company is branching out into other areas, namely consumer hardware. To this end, it is changing its company name to Snap Inc. Its newest innovation under this new name is Spectacles, smart eyeglasses. The Spectacles records 10-second video clips and a day’s worth of pictures before needing to be recharged.

A video shot is initialized by touching a button on the frame. When recording, a ring of lights indicates you are filming. Taking photos and videos from this viewpoint makes it much more accurate than doing so with a camera. After taking these videos and pictures, you then have the capability to either save this to your phone or to send it to friends on Snapchat. You can purchase Spectacles in black, teal, or coral. This is not something that Snap came with just off the cuff. They have been working and developing them for years.

The Spectacles will soon go on sale in the public domain for $129. Business analysts say they predict Snap will debut its glasses in New York. It has already started a site to display its soon to be released Spectacles and the site will also feature any future products. This site is called Spectacles.com. In successfully creating the camera, they have also successfully created the smallest wireless video camera in the world. Although it is not dead certain when exactly Spectacles will be released, Snap Inc. CEO, Evan Spiegel, has promised that it will be sometime this fall.
Just three years ago Facebook had a chance to acquire Snapchat but failed to do so. In light of Snapchat’s rising success, they may be really regretting this decision. In the meantime, it is trying to keep up with Snap by similarly branching out into other areas of productivity.

Apps/Social Media Apps/Snapchat

Snapchat Becomes Snap and Introduces Cameras

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Many companies have successfully reinvented themselves over time. For example, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway started out selling textiles and Shell Oil started out selling shells imported from the Far East. Nokia started out selling rubber boots and Nintendo started out selling playing cards. Now, it would seem, Snapchat would like to reinvent its image into a provider of cameras, according to a recent article in Huffington Post. Unlike these other examples, however, the company is changing its name to Snap.
One of the company’s first products is a pair of sunglasses with a tiny camera built into it. You can wear them anywhere that you would normally wear sunglasses. Wearers can then simply push a button on the earpiece to the glasses to start recording what the person is seeing at the time. The camera operates by a microscopic battery that will last all day.
Once the camera records the action, then it instantly uploads it to a smartphone. They hope that users find all types of creative ways to use this new product since they can truly give viewers a first-hand experience. Of course, they hope that one of those places will be the Snapchat platform. This app is already very popular in some circles with over 11 billion videos being viewed on a daily basis. That is a far cry from social media giant Facebook where viewers recently watched over 100 million hours of videos in a day. Of course, Snap hopes that with its newest products their market share will rise dramatically because they are not quite ready to totally remake the company.
Snap says that it may be awhile before you see these glasses in your favorite store. They are taking the slow approach to rolling out the product. The product will be available in three colors and retail for under $130.
The company plans on introducing more products to the public in the near future. It is yet to be determined if Snapchat can remake their image and become as famous as Nokia, Shell and Berkshire Hathaway.

Technology/Social Media Apps/Tech/Spotify

Spotify Launches New Kid-Friendly Section

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There’s a new place in Spotify for kids. Spotify relaunched its Kid’s section today, revamping the section of the service to include not only kid-friendly music, but also things like vocabulary and language-development recordings kids can listen to in order to learn something new.

The section is particularly geared toward younger kids, and inside some of the programs are prompts for parents to take part as well. For instance, a recording might have a short break that encourages a parent and child to participate in an activity together or practice what they just learned earlier in the recording before going further.

With the launch, Spotify notes that music can be a huge help when it comes to a child’s development. Singing and listening to others talk and sing can help a child develop his or her vocabulary quicker, and can have a dramatic impact on a child’s brain development.

Recordings within the Kids and Family section are broken up by activity, so you might have a section of recording to listen to during road trip, and another for listening to music on the beach during a summer day.

Some of the prompts include things as simple as asking the child what they would like to listen to next, but can be as complex as suggesting that the parent and child put together a dance that matches the music they’re about to listen to.

Tunes in the playlists are a healthy mix of old classics that parents might remember from their youth, and new tunes that have been developed for modern children. Some of the music is family friendly rather than just kid-friendly, so moms and dads don’t have to worry that putting on a playlist meaning they’re stuck in kids music land for the remainder of the day.

Voiceovers and music are available in Spanish in addition to English, and the voiceover portions are narrated by a number of high-profile celebrities including Busy Philpps, Wiz Khalifa, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Social Media Apps/Google/Google Plus Hangouts

Google Quietly Ditches Hangouts on Air

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Starting September 12th, you’ll no longer be able to use Google+’s Hangouts On Air service. The service allowed people to live stream video that could then be joined by others privately or publicly. For instance, you might use Hangouts on Air to speak to coworkers round the world, or a celebrity might use the service to speak t their fans at once.

Google originally added Hangouts on Air to Google+ as a feature for celebrities. The service, which launched in September of 2011, was originally jut used by high-profile individuals who wanted to communicate with large groups of people at once. Later, Google opted to mae the feature available to everyone,; however, that didn’t happen until May 2012.

Now instead of Hangouts on Air, Google+ users will be instructed to use YouTube Live. YouTube Live is a relatively similar service, which allows YouTube users (which are essentially google users) to live broadcast directly onto the service from wherever they are.

If you’ve already scheduled a Hangouts on Air broadcast for after September 12th, Google will be moving it over automatically to YouTube, with no work needed on your end (besides of course using YouTube come broadcast time).

Events that have already been recorded using Hangouts on Air will now be available on YouTube instead. There will; however, still be a Google+ link that can be used to view the event content in your Activity Log.

If you’ve never used YouTube to perform a live broadcast, getting started is fairly simple. First, go to Live Streaming Events from within YouTube’s Creator Studio and the select New Live vent. From there, select Quick, and then give your broadcast a title. When you’re ready to start broadcasting, click Go Live Now. You also have the option to schedule an event for later, if you want to promote a particular live broadcast rather than going live immediately.

This move seems like Google is taking an even further step back from Google+. It originally built the service as a Facebook competitor, but the social network never took off.

Apps/Social Media Apps

Flipora is the App of the Future

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Software developers worldwide see AI as the wave of future computer technology. They believe so highly in this, that several big investors among them have collectively given $1.5 million to the AI cause in the first round of funding. These investors include such heavy hitters in the computer world as Adsense, Dropbox, Lending Club, and Paypal. One of the results is Flipora. Flipora is a free downloadable Window’s software or Smartphone app that will analyze and determine the type of sites you most favor.

The Flipora company was first begun in 2008 by graduate students, Jonathan Siddharth and Vijay Krishnan. Their desire was to create a product that both aided in internet research and took advantage of the current social media craze. Originally calling their company InfoAxe, the duo eventually changed it to Flipora. In 2010, the two raised an additional $3 million dollars in funding. All of these monies have helped to create the quality product that is Flipora. Flipora is a free product that you can either install on your computer or download on your smartphone. When personalized to yourself it will then automatically scan the internet using a complex algorithm. It will then recommend the sites it comes across that it has judged would be of interest to you. You will see these recommendations in your own personalized feed. You do not have to go to all or any of these sites if you do not choose to. These suggestions are exactly that, suggestions. This feature is designed to help you cut down on the seemingly endless research time.

There are a couple of other ways to further enhance the personalization of your Flipora account. 1) You can follow other Flipora users who have similar tastes. Users who acquire the original recommendation should highlight things they particularly like so like-minded browsers will see those first. 2) In addition, users can connect their Flipora account to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The personalization process does not end. It keeps honing itself via the aforementioned procedures until you will come to find it amazingly accurate. In fact, the team at Flipora claims that it will eventually get so accurate that it knows you better than you know yourself. This all makes Flipora’s Windows software in itself very attractive. However, some have concerns that the Windows entity may be a harmful adware. In November, 2014 Symantec put minds at rest by declaring Flipora’s Windows a low-risk adware.

Flipora is an important stage in the AI research, but it is only one single early stage. Expect AI to completely transform the way we use computers and smartphones in the future. There will come a time—probably very soon—when the use of AI in all forms of computer technology will be standard.