If a web page calls itself an “experience” and requires Chrome Canary, the “cutting-edge experimental version of Google Chrome,” it’s gotta be awesome…RIGHT?! Check out the behind-the-scenes video below, download Canary, and check out the experiment.
“3 Dreams of Black” is Chris Milk’s new interactive film, created in WebGL with Google for Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi’s ROME, featuring Jack White & Norah Jones. The project is a Chrome Experiment which pushes the boundaries of HTML5 and showcases the potential of video on on modern browsers. Watch the “Creation Of” video:
That fancy new movie rental section on the Android Market? You can’t use it if you have rooted your device. Kinda sucks and I can understand why many rooters would be upset, but I think Android Central goes a bit overboard here:
So now people who root their phones, whether to get rid of the crap “open” that’s forced down their throats, or to have a current version of Android, are punished and lumped in with folks who steal movies. Nice move, Google. That makes me want to buy more of your products and use more of your services, so I can be treated like a criminal just because I’m smart enough to get rid of CityID, or want a safe version of Android on my phone.
There is one important point we have to remember here: Google did not create these movies. In order for Google to distribute them, they need permission from the movie industry. We’ve already learned from the Netflix launch on Android that this industry forces those distributing their content to be very careful. This is one of the reasons Netflix isn’t available on all handsets yet.
Let’s also take a peak at the new Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player services. Both operate as simple cloud storage lockers which just so happen to be geared towards playing music. Without the music industry behind it, you are forced to simply upload all your junk instead of having these services recognize and match your library as Lala has done in the past. More than likely, Apple’s cloud-based music service will have this ability. Remember? Apple bought Lala and later shut it down.
Let’s not go blaming Google and try to realize that, without these restrictions, there probably wouldn’t be any movies at all for any Androids.
Android Users Vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle Attack
Due to an insecurity in Google’s ClientLogin Protocol, it seems any Android user running 2.3.3 or earlier could unknowingly give away access to personal data. Researchers at uulm claim that authToken information, stored for 14 days any time you login to sites like Facebook and Twitter, can be easily obtained by hackers:
“To collect such authTokens on a large scale an adversary could setup a wifi access point with a common SSID evil twin of an unencrypted wireless network, e.g., T-Mobile, attwifi, starbucks…With default settings, Android phones automatically connect to a previously known network and many apps will attempt syncing immediately. While syncing would fail unless the adversary forwards the requests, the adversary would capture authTokens for each service that attempted syncing.”
Today, Google announced a fix for the problem, which will be completely transparent to users. You won’t have to do an update or install anything. Picasa synchronization, introduced in Android 2.3, will remain unencrypted. If you think you already got got, you will still need to change your Google password.
Keep in mind that, in order for the attack to work, you would have had to connect to a “fake” unencrypted WiFi network at some point.
It’s been a long time coming for AT&T Android smartphone customers, but you will FINALLY be able to install 3rd-party applications on your devices (sideloading). This means you will also now get access to Amazon’s Android Appstore, which is still giving away a free app on the daily. The Samsung Infuse, which just launched recently, will be the first phone to get this functionality.
“Over the next few weeks, we will also roll out this capability to existing devices in our base for which an upgrade is possible,” an AT&T spokesman said.
It appears those free daily apps from Amazon were a huge factor in AT&T changing their position. Customers were very vocal and AT&T had no choice.
Netflix Single Largest Source of Interenet Traffic in the US
According to a report by Sandyvine, Netflix now accounts for 29.7 percent of peak downstream traffic in North America. This puts it ahead of Bittorrent, YouTube, and all HTTP websites by a pretty big margin. Bittorrent still dominates upstream traffic, though. The reasons for Netflix dominating our downloads? Video streaming eats up a lot of bandwidth, so it doesn’t take much actual usage to post big numbers. Still, this report highlights the major changes in how we consume visual content.
Google Teaches Developers How To Turn Apps Into Businesses
Apps are where it’s at right now, but there is more to success than just developing an app. Just like any other creative pursuit, there is work to be done once you have a finished product. It’s highly likely that, just like your average musician, developers need a little direction when it comes to the business end of things. This is where Google’s Guide to the App Galaxy comes in:
App Galaxy isn’t an eBook, PDF, or subscription you have to pay for to take advantage. You don’t have to specifically be an Android (Powered by Google) developer either. App Galaxy is pretty awesome website (no sign-up required) that’s designed as a spaceship taking off that carries you through the many aspects of the app business, regardless of what platform you choose to develop for, as it blasts off into the app success stars.
If you’re reading this, I must assume you’re some type of techy. Who else would bother with Google Places? Facebook and Foursquare have that location check-in thing on lock. At any rate, Google just announced the ability to import any RSS feed that includes location data and I’m going to show you how to do so with Foursquare.
Google Places just announced a new feature that lets you import the places you’ve checked-in to on Foursquare into Google to rate and review. It’s as simple as finding the feed from your Foursquare profile, copying its link and pasting it into the search box in Places. It’s really easy! via ReadWriteWeb
Well, it’s not that hard, but if you haven’t a clue about RSS and all that jazz, I don’t think “really easy” covers it. Especially not with an exclamation point (Marshall, you’re still my dude).
The first thing you want to do is grab your Foursquare RSS feed. For your privacy, these feeds are available using private token URLs. This means you have to be logged into Foursquare to even see them.
Paste the URL you just grabbed from Foursquare into the search box and hit Search button.
Now, this will pull in some of your recent check-ins and give you the option to rate them. Here is where things get a little funky. You’re only going to get the last 10 or 20 check-ins, not much if you actually use Foursquare.
To increase the number of results you see, you have to add a parameter to the end of the URL. Try adding “?count=1000” to the end (no spaces) before you hit Search and you should see more results as you hit Load More at the bottom of the page.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Google Places is all about Ratings. If you don’t actually go through and rate the places that show up from Foursquare, you haven’t actually imported them into Google Places.
Again, if all you do is paste the feed from Foursquare and hit Search, you haven’t imported any info into Google Places. You must go through and rate the places you’ve been.
As you may have noticed, Amazon and Google have both launched cloud music services. These work as storage lockers, where you can upload music from your computer and play that music, streamed directly from the cloud, to just about any computer or mobile device.
Apple’s iTunes, the king when it comes to buying music online, has been rumored to be launching a similar service. The main difference being that Apple will launch with support from record labels while Amazon and Google are going it alone.
Why is this important?
It all comes down to how you get started on these services. With Amazon and Google, you have to upload all of your music to the cloud. As I can personally attest, this takes for-freaking-ever even for a modest amount of music.
It’s hard to overstate how critical this is. Right now, Amazon makes you upload your own library for any song you haven’t purchased from them since their service launched those you purchase from them can automatically be added to your locker. Google doesn’t even have a music purchase option at all yet, so you have to upload music.
As Jason and I talked about on OMG/JK this week, that means hours or days of uploading — that’s what he had to go through. How many people are realistically going to do that? Not a lot.
You see, Apple could get around the uploading by scanning your music library and simply unlocking those tracks for you in their online library. You won’t have to upload, but you’ll still have access to your music in the cloud. This is exactly what LaLa used to do.
Why This is Dangerous
We have to remember that the gate keepers are gone. The music industry is desperately trying to hold onto a revenue model that consumers and artists are just not feeling anymore. They tried to lock us down with DRM, which failed miserably, so how else could they possibly limit our music?
Oh! I know. Get direct access to all the music on your local drive. Scan it and compare it with watermarks (yes, they can do that), hashes, or whatever from “official” services like iTunes and Amazon. Maybe they even compare your library to an extensive library of pirated music they snagged from torrents.
Bottom line for me is that I don’t think I want a cloud music service that has anything to do with the record labels. A dying beast is always the most dangerous. Of course, I’ve never bought anything from iTunes anyway and never plan to start.
Back to the Technical Side
You only have to upload your music once. After that, uploading an album here and there isn’t going to be a big deal. With Amazon, you don’t even have to upload anything because they’ll automatically dump your purchases into your cloud storage. Purchases made in their store don’t count against your storage limit.
What Do You Think?
I’m not down for an industry-backed cloud player, but what about you? Why? Which company will you roll with?
Amazon’s Cloud Player service is a ballsy move by Amazon that lets users stream music from the cloud directly to their mobile devices or web browsers. The service does not have the blessing of the music industry and launched with only an Android app. This is understandable given Apple’s relationship with the recording industry. To bad, so sad, for iOS device owners…until now. MG Siegler explains how it works:
If you visit Amazon’s Cloud Player through the Safari web browser on an iOS device, you’ll see that it does in fact now work. You’ll first hit a warning page telling you that your browser is not supported, but just ignore that. Click into the music in your drive and it will begin playing. It works flawlessly — even to the point where if you get a Push Notification or incoming call, the music will be paused.
Netflix Finally Available on (some) Android Devices
For all you Androids at there, rejoice. You can now watch Netflix on select Android devices. Watching shows and movies instantly over 3G or WiFi. Resume right where you left off on your computer or TV. Search and browse titles with ease. There are currently 5 officially supported devices:
HTC Incredible with Android 2.2
HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2, 2.3
HTC Evo 4G with Android 2.2
HTC G2 with Android 2.2
Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3
According to Netflix Product Manager Roma De, the reason only some devices are supported boils down to a “lack of standard streaming playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones.” In order to expand support across other devices, they each have to be tested individually to see if they support playback. Why would Netflix bother pushing the app out at this point? Wired points out that Google just launched movie rentals on Android. Grab the Netflix app from the Android Marketplace if you have a supported device and be sure to let us know if you got it working on something else.
Facebook was recently caught trying to pull a fast one against competitor Google, by hiring a PR Firm to basically drag Google’s name through the mud. In true Facebook style, their response to getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar doesn’t say much at all. They’ve repeatedly escaped reprisals from users by sticking their collective heads in the sand until everything boils over. This latest event seems no different.
No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended. Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles — just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose. We engaged Burson-Marsteller to focus attention on this issue, using publicly available information that could be independently verified by any media organization or analyst. The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way.
TechCrunch attempted to reach out to Facebook for a less sterile response, but got none. Since Facebook doesn’t want to speak up for what they’ve done, MG Siegler breaks it down for us without their input.
Troubles with Internet Censorship on the African continent stretch far beyond what we’ve heard from countries like Egypt. Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast and others have begun filtering the web in fear of protest movements gaining popularity and using social media to organize.
With an Internet penetration rate of only 0.5 percent, the state-owned Ethiopian networking infrastructure blocks a wide range of political opposition and independent news sites which report on the country.
Ethiopian officials recently hijacked an event sponsored by UNESCO, replacing independent journalists with government-approved reporters. They also unblocked a number of sites, probably temporarily, due to the event’s theme of new media and the Internet.
Ethiopia continues to be one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s worst offenders when it comes to Internet freedom. –Al Jazeera
A new method of Internet Censorship, Just-in-Time blocking, has become popular due to protests spreading across the Middle East and North Africa. In this case, sites are blocked temporarily in direct response to protests and other gatherings. On April 14, Uganda’s Communications Commission (UCC) allegedly used this method to block Twitter and Facebook for 24 hours as citizens protested against rising food and fuel prices.
Ugandan Commissioner of Police Andrew Kaweesi has called cyberactivism a Western phenomenon, stating that “governments need to come up with an enabling law that guards against misuse of communication networks to protect social values and national identity,” and called for regulation of online publications.
With only 5.6 per cent of the total global online population, Africa lags behind the rest of the world. Even with efforts to get more Africans online, they run the risk of increased Internet filtering and incarceration. While countries like Egypt and Sudan have mostly open access to the Internet, dozens of bloggers have been arrested in Egypt and the Sudanese government is known to use social networking to track down protesters.
Will the cost that citizens will have to pay be worth having widespread Internet access?
It’s no secret that Google and Facebook aren’t the best of friends. Facebook has 600 million users or so, with a huge social graph that Google wants in on. Facebook isn’t having it. They’ve had their little spats before, but this latest story is nothing short of ridiculous. Facebook got the idea to get at Google by highlighting privacy concerns in using Google services. The problem is, Facebook couldn’t do so directly because of their own privacy issues. To get around this, they hired a PR firm to do their dirty work.
While this firm, Burson-Marsteller, has “represented lots of blue-chip corporate clients in its 58-year history,” has consulted for Bill Clinton, and strategized for Hillary in 2008, their approach here was quite amateur. The Daily Beast says it best: “here were two guys from one of the biggest and best-known PR agencies in the world, blustering around Silicon Valley like a pair of Keystone Kops.”
They approached Privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian, hoping to use his name for Facebook’s vendetta against Google. He told BetaBeat that they even offered to ghost-write the piece. Instead of simple refusing their request, he posted the email exchange online, much to Facebook’s embarrassment.
I’ll refrain from making references to black pots and kettles, but Facebook definitely loses face here. As far as many are concerned, Facebook’s integrity was already in question when it came to privacy, and this backstabbing and desperate move doesn’t help any. One has to wonder, though. How scared of Google is Facebook to pull a stunt like this?
Hitch Radio provides access over 33,000 radio stations worldwide, allowing you to explore new music and listen to what you want when you want. You can search for content and share what you find with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to music, Hitch also covers news, talk, and sports stations.
Hitch Radio not only provides a way to access these regional radio stations, but makes it easy to find what you need. Data is organized in real-time and passed to the user. Instead of tuning into a station, you Hitch-a-Ride. If you like where it takes you, it’s easy to share with your social networks.
Facebook connect integration allows you to Hitch-a-Ride with a friend. This means they’re in the driver’s seat and you hear whatever they hear. From the Hitch Radio About page:
It’s a pretty cool way to sit back and relax while you stay in touch with your friends throughout the day. Ever hear a song on the radio and call up your friends to make sure they’re listening, too?
The site itself is simple to interact with. You search for what you need and the play buttons appear directly in the search results. Look for artists and songs, radio personalities or stations, or just search in a specific location. Hit play in the results and a new window opens with the station info so you can listen in the background.
Hitch Radio, currently in private beta, is definitely a cool service if you’re looking for a way to occupy your ears. One of the most interesting features is the real-time nature of the search. Have you ever just missed your favorite song or news show on the radio? Doesn’t happen on Hitch Radio because you can just search for a different station playing the same thing.
This year’s Google I/O conference illustrates exactly where Google is headed as a company. There is a heavy focus on Android and Chrome OS with some very interesting announcements thrown in. Here are a few of them.
Chrome Web Store Available Worldwide
Google has opened up the Chrome Web Store to its entire user base of 160 million users. The store is going worldwide, speaking 41 different languages. Those outside the current markets will only have access to free apps initially, but that still means they can grab ChromeDeck.
Another app that makes it’s debut in the Chrome Web Store? Angry Birds. Now, you don’t even need a mobile device to waste you life away throwing birds at pigs. This is possible only because of the accelerated development of browsers and web applications load by Google and their Chrome Browser.
Google also announced in-app purchases, which takes just one line of code for developers to add, and is keeping the fee structure simple at a flat 5%. To date, 17 million apps have been installed from the Chrome Web Store.
Google Music is Finally Here
A year after it’s announcement, Google Music is finally running in beta. The service is quite close to what Amazon launched recently with their Cloud Drive. Both services allow for the upload, storage, and streaming of your music from the cloud. While Amazon is giving you 5GB of storage, Google is measuring your storage in “songs” and you get to store 20,000 of them. They say this is only for a limited time, though. Check ReadWriteWeb for a detailed run-down and comparison of the two services. You can request an invite to the service here.
A New Kind of Computer: Chromebook
Just when you thought those CR-48 laptops were just a gimmick to promote Chrome OS, Google changes the whole game. With the Chrome Web Browser at its core, the Chromebook offers a lightweight, fast, secure, and reliable way to do business. Remember the Chrome Web Store? Yeah, it’s in the Chromebook. You’ll soon be able to grab one from Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers.
Just another type of netbook, you say? While that may be true, the key here is in how Google is approaching the business and education. In an effort to address costly and insecure setups for these organizations, Google has announced Chromebooks for Business and Education:
This service from Google includes Chromebooks and a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies. Also included is enterprise-level support, device warranties and replacements as well as regular hardware refreshes. Monthly subscriptions will start at $28/user for businesses and $20/user for schools.
I’d say “BOOM!,” but that’s getting so overused, isn’t it? You also may be wondering how Google will address the problem of offline access, a major sticking point for a browser-based OS. They’ve announced today that they’ve been internally testing totally offline versions of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. These will become available to all users this summer.
Check out the hilarious video for more details on the Chromebook. One of my favorite quotes from the video is in response to the question “This has the web?,” where the Chromebook responds, “it actually IS the web.”
Artist and producer Pharrell Williams has been named creative director of the new Karmaloop TV network, which launches later this year. The network is aimed at the 18-34 demographic who grew up with the Internet.
In a video on the Karmaloop TV site, Pharrell says that they reach a unique demographic that is not currently being addressed, as he puts it, “in the right way.”
“We don’t wanna follow youth culture. We want to continue to lead. We want to bring programming that not only changes their mentality, but lifts their mentality.”
KarmaLoop TV says Pharrell will have a “significant equity position” in the company. Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe said Williams will help create a brand that will get “cutting-edge youth culture” excited about TV, as MTV did in the 80s. KarmaLoop TV, a spin-off from the 10yr old Karmaloop streetwear shopping site, is headed by former president of the AMC cable channel Katie McEnroe.
It will be interesting to see what the front man for N.E.R.D. will bring to the network. Will you be tuning into Karmaloop TV?
This summer, in July, Hip-Hop Word Count will be featured in the Art & Design Exhibition Talk To Me at The Museum Of Modern Art. Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 50,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The exhibit focuses on interactions with objects, including: interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users.
Examples range from a few iconic products of the late 1960s to several projects currently in development—including computer and machine interfaces, websites, video games, devices and tools, furniture like the one you can get in the Ivy and Wilde store and other physical products, and extending to installations and whole environments.
Tahir Hemphill of HHWC will be presenting infographics of Jay-Z and 50 Cent’s careers as well as an interactive data visualization tracking mentions of ‘Champagne’ from 1980 to 2010. Hemphill’s work has been previously been exhibited at Siggraph (Siggraph 2002); Queens Museum of Art (Queens International Biennial, 2002) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Black New York Photographers of the Twentieth Century, 1999).
Hemphill and Hip-Hop Word Count were recently featured on the Michael Eric Dyson show, where he discussed some of the motivations behind the hip-hop database. He shared his hopes that HHWC would be used as a teaching tool, in advertising and marketing, and as a tool for new rappers to figure out whether they’re actually adding anything new to the rap game.
Also coming in July, Hemphill will be working on The Crown Heights Gold exhibition. Inspired by the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riot, a tragic event that began on August 19, 1991, Hemphill will focus on a critical re-reading of historical events and facts surrounding the riots via Hip-Hop videos and news reels. tragic event that began on August 19, 1991.
Rumors swirled yesterday of a Skype acquisition by Microsoft and they’ve now been proven to be true. Microsoft has officially announced a deal under which Microsoft will acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. This is a very aggressive move by Microsoft to get into the “increasingly-converged worlds of communication, information and entertainment.”
Buying Skype—a service that connects millions of users around the world via Internet-based telephony and video— would give Microsoft a recognized brand name on the Internet at a time when it is struggling to get more traction in the consumer market.
The acquisition will increase accessibility of real-time video communications for both consumers and enterprise users, in addition to providing revenue opportunities for both parties. Skype’s 170 million users will join the family of real-time communications platforms at Microsoft, including: Lync (which saw 30 percent revenue growth in Q3), Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE.
“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”
Skype will be taken under Microsoft’s wing as a new business division within the company. Skype CEO Tony Bates will become President of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer, who says “Bates has a great track record as a leader and will strengthen the Microsoft management team. I’m looking forward to Skype’s talented global workforce bringing its insights, ideas and experience to Microsoft.”
Egon Durban of Silver Lake said about the deal, “We are excited about Skype’s long-term future with Microsoft, as it is poised to become one of the world’s most dynamic and comprehensive communications platforms.”
Microsoft has announced the availability of the Windows Azure Toolkits for mobile devices, including: Windows Phone, iOS, and a preview of tools for Android. These tools allow developers to leverage the cloud to accelerate creation of mobile apps. Groupon, for instance, is using the platform to create a consistent mobile experience for users.
“At Groupon, we recognize that people aren’t tied to their computers and want to get deals – whenever and wherever they happen to be. Taking advantage of the Windows Azure Toolkits for Mobile Devices, we can rely on a common backend to create consistent, next generation mobile experiences like real-time notification services that integrate into each phone’s home screen and app experience,” said Groupon’s Michael Shim, vice president of Mobile Business Developer & Partnerships.
Mobile apps is a booming industry and is only growing. Forrester predicts the market will exceed $7 billion by 2015. The problem is that there are too many options out there for developers to create for. They’re forced to prioritize one mobile platform over another and, even when they do try to cover all platforms, the user experience can be inconsistent.
The Windows Azure Toolkits simplify things by providing a common back-end to share features like requirements like device notifications, authentication, storage. Developers can still write client code that exploits the strengths of each individual platform.
Microsoft is also announcing a “Cloud Ready” package for the toolkit. This simplifies the process of setting up services in Windows Azure and allows you to get started quickly without worrying about modifying services. Check out the screencast below for a tutorial on Windows Azure for iOS and hit TechNet Blogs for more details.
The Resumator, a service aiming to “take the hassle out of hiring”, has secured $700,000 in funding led by Rincon Venture Partners, with Paige Craig, ff Venture Capital and Christopher Muenchhoff participating. The Pittsburgh-based company is a graduate of the May 2009 AlphaLab program run by seed stage investor Innovation Works, which was also part of this round.
The Resumator is no stranger to Black Web 2.0. Founder and CEO Don Charlton is featured on our list of Tastemakers and was at our recent NewMe conference. He’s shared his knowledge and experiences here a number of times, including details on what he learned from participating in the AlphaLab accelerator program, and has shared some strategies for starting your own new media property (don’t forget part 2).
For small businesses and startups, hiring is extra work, and no one’s expertise. Someone is usually “deputized” to manage the hiring process, and this person (the CEO, office manager, or “unlucky stiff”) usually has no formal experience in recruiting.
The Resumator helps these deputized HR managers save time and money on hiring by instantly replacing the inefficiency of their HR inbox with an entire online recruiting platform for promoting jobs and reviewing resumes.
Companies who trust The Resumator for their hiring include Evernote, ThinkGeek, Dreamhost, Disqus, and Daily Burn.
Charlton tells TechCrunch that The Resumator had been growing steadily since their 2009 launch, but were having trouble making connections with investors on the West Coast. They solved the problem by joining AngelList, which quickly led to this round of funding. They’ve now raised close to $900,000 in funding altogether.