Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Songza is “Thrilled” to Become Part of Google

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:36 AM on July 2, 2014

Songza logoSongza has announced that they are becoming part of Google. They stated that they are “thrilled” to make the announcement and that they “can’t think of a better company to join in our quest to provide the perfect soundtrack to everything you do”. Not much else was said, other than that no immediate changes to Songza are planned (“other than making it faster, smarter, and more fun to use”, that is.)

Google announced that they, too, are “thrilled” to welcome Songza to Google. In its brief announcement, Google gave users some assurance about potential changes. “We aren’t planning any immediate changes to Songza, so it will continue to work like usual for existing users”.

So, Google is thrilled, and Songza is thrilled. Will current users of Songza be equally thrilled? That remains to be seen.

Time reported that Songza did not reveal the purchase price. Time also noted that The New York Post, “citing unnamed sources”, reported that Google was offering about $15 million for Songza. I’m never certain how much trust to give to “unnamed sources”, but there we are.

Of course, the discussion about Google buying Songza must include a mention about Apple’s announcement (in May) that it would buy Beats Electronics. And, let’s not forget about Google’s ownership of YouTube. It appears that there is a fight going on between Google and Apple as each attempts to capture the attention of music lovers.

Apple Discontinues Aperture

Posted by JenThorpe at 12:27 AM on June 30, 2014

Aperture appApple has announced that it is ceasing development of its Aperture and iPhoto apps. Instead, Apple will be replacing them with its new Photos app (that was announced during its Worldwide Developers Conference).

Jim Dalrymple, at The Loop was given the following statement from Apple:

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

The Aperture Blog notes that Apple has said they will provide an update so that Aperture will still work with OS X Yosemite. This will give Aperture users some time to make a decision about where to move their photos to.

ITV Player Comes To Roku

Posted by Andrew at 1:43 AM on June 11, 2014

Roku LogoUntil today, the big absentee from Roku‘s line-up of catch-up services in the UK was ITV and its regional partners STV and UTV in Scotland and Northern Ireland. At #2 in terrestrial broadcasting behind the BBC, it was a fairly glaring omission, especially as Channel 4 and Five have been on-board for ages. Now UK Roku viewers can use ITV Player to catch-up with the last 30 days of ITV’s content across ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV with programmes such as Britain’s Got TalentCoronation Street and The Americans in addition to coverage of this summer’s World Cup and Tour de France sporting events. Hurrah!

Springpad is Shutting Down

Posted by JenThorpe at 6:39 PM on May 23, 2014

Springpad logoThose of you who are using Springpad are in for some disappointment. An announcement on the Springpad blog makes it clear that Springpad will be shutting down on June 25, 2014.

The blog notes that Springpad had more than 5 million users in the past six years. It was seen by some as a rival to Evernote. If you browse through articles posted about Springpad, it becomes clear that there were many people who loved it.

As of June 25, 2014, Springpad.com will no longer be available. All online and sync features of the mobile apps will stop working. Users personal data will no longer be stored on the Springpad servers.

Those of you who are currently using Springpad should pay attention to the Springpad blog. They are going to announce “in the coming days” details about the export tool that will be made available to all users and developers. My best guess is that those details will be released soon. Users and developers will only have until June 25, 2014 to use the export tool.

Foursquare is Changing Mayorships

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:30 PM on May 9, 2014

Foursquare logoFoursquare has announced that it will be making changes as it prepares to release Swarm. One change that is causing a bit of controversy involves the way that Foursquare is assigning mayorships.

In the past, it was possible to use Foursquare to check in to your favorite coffee shop. The person that checked in the most frequently (in a 60 day timeframe) would be given the title of “mayor” of that particular coffee shop. Other people who also used Foursquare could compete in an effort to oust the current mayor (and claim the title for themselves).

Starting May 9, 2014, there will be no more ousting of mayors in the Foursquare app. Instead, the app will continue to show the current mayor “frozen in place”. Those who are currently a mayor of a particular location will be able to see those mayorships on his or her profile.

The change is being done to make way for Mayors 2.0. You no longer will be competing against all 50,000,000 people who use Foursquare for the mayorship of your favorite coffee shop. Instead, the competition will be limited to your group of friends. The person within that group of friends who has been to that coffee shop the most will get a crown sticker to show that he or she is mayor of it.

This means that there will no longer be one mayor of a particular location. There will be many mayors now (one for each circle of friends). Some people feel that this takes all the fun out of having a mayorship.

My.com Launches the First Mobile-Only Email Service

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2014

my.com logoMy.com is offering an interesting alternative to the desktop based email service that you are currently using. The @my.com email service is a mobile-only approach that has been designed to fit with the increasingly mobile-centric worldwide trend.

The @my.com email service functions within my.com’s myMail app (which was launched in November of 2013). The myMail mobile app was designed for managing multiple email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and more. Those who are currently using the myMail app can now add @my.com to that list. If you are already using myMail, you will be prompted to create a @my.com email account when your app is updated on your device.

Those who want to register for their own @my.com email address can do so now. Registration is open and it is 100% free. The myMail app is available for Apple iOS on iPad and iPhone and for Android smartphones. (The myMail app, by the way, is free to download).

Some of the features of myMail include push notifications, quick gestures for moving to folders or deleting, a clean user interface, and spam/virus protection. It also gives users 150 GB of free email storage. That is 10 times the amount of email storage that Google provides in Gmail!

You won’t need to create a password. Instead, you will receive an SMS code after you register for myMail. Once you use the SMS code, it becomes invalid for anyone else. In short, you won’t have to remember a yet another password and you won’t have to login to your email.

All email traffic through myMail is encrypted as an additional security measure. This is very different than the typical desktop based email service that can be compromised by hacking, phishing, or from a stolen password.

Mogees Makes Music at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 1:05 AM on April 17, 2014

The Gadget Show has all kinds of tech on display, from mainstream suppliers with latest tablets to niche fun products that bring a smile to your face and Mogees is definitely in the latter camp. Many of us will have seen those vibration speakers that turn any surface into a speaker….Mogees does the reverse, converting any surface or object into a musical instrument. Here’s a Mogees on a bicycle.

Mogees Microphone

Mogees on a Bicycle

Developed on the back of Kickstarter funding, the Mogees microphone connects into an iPhone running a Mogees app that converts the vibrations into musical tones and with a bit of skill, a tune. The app does a great deal of audio processing to help produce the music in a tuneful way so learning to play your chosen object is fairly easy, however bizarre the instrument is.

The Mogees will be available towards the end of the year and I interview Bruno about the development of Mogees: there’s a demonstration of the instrument in the audio too.

Safe Games for Kids by Toca Boca at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:45 AM on April 16, 2014

Toca BocaAs a a parent with a tablet-loving daughter, I’m always worried that she’s either playing inappropriate games or else building up whopping a credit card bill via in-app purchases. Being tech-savvy, I can easily rectify the latter by controlling the password to my account, but this doesn’t always negate pester-power. The former is still a concern and I’m not alone as these two issues are relevant to parents everywhere.

To help mums and dads, Swedish outfit Toca Boca, “a play studio that makes digital toys for kids” have created a range of open-ended, non-competitive games that appeal to children where the initial purchase cost is the only time you need to flex the credit card. There are over 20 apps available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices, and include games for young hairdressers, chefs, doctors, vets, chemists, scientists and drivers. The themes are very similar to some of the popular “free” games that are out there; the Toca Boca versions usually cost US$2.99 but there are no subsequent in-app purchases.

I chat to Sonia about the Toca Boca apps and how parents can be more confident in what their children playing on their tablets without the worry of an enlarged credit card bill.

LiveU featured LU500, LiveU Central, and LU-Smart HD App at NAB

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:36 AM on April 13, 2014

LiveU logoLiveU is the leader in portable live video acquisition, contribution, and management solutions. LiveU featured three new products at NAB 2014. They are the LU500, LiveU Central, and the LU-Smart HD app.

LiveU Central is a cloud-based management system. It has been designed to be a one-stop destination through which you can control, monitor, and manage all of your LiveU units, servers, apps, and user profiles. You can access LiveU Central through any browser on any computer, tablet, or phone from anywhere in the world.

The LU-Smart HD app is a mobile app solution for video professionals. The app brings out LiveU’s bonded transmission technology to the iPhone or iPad. It combines Wi-Fi and cellular networks in order to reach optimal video quality. The LU-Smart HD app requires a “Smart-Activated” LiveU license including a LiveU receiving server.

The LU500 weighs only 2.2 pounds. It is small enough to fit inside a backpack and can also be camera-mounted. The LU500 offers excellent video transmission up to 14 network links including 6-8 internal modules with LiveU’s proprietary antenna technology. It can support LiveU batteries, Gold-Mount, or V-mount. More details are in the video below.

AccuWeather Introduced New StoryTeller App at NAB

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2014

Storyteller by AccuweatherAccuWeather is the “go-to” website for when you want to know what the weather is like. At NAB, they introduced the new StoryTeller AlertID Crime App. It is powered by AlertID and allows newsrooms to access important data that they need in order to keep their audiences well informed.

The StoryTeller app lets newsrooms access data from communications between citizens, law enforcement, and both federal and state authorities. Use it to access national sex offender data and alerts and Amber Alerts issued by local law enforcement. It also will give information about missing adult alerts, national weather, earthquake, wildfire, and hazardous materials warnings and alerts.

The idea is that the StoryTeller app will help newsrooms quickly respond to the breaking crime news and to news about dangerous weather alerts. This, in turn, will help them to keep the public well informed. The information in the StoryTeller app is drawn from over 170 types of local crime-related data, covering more than 140 million people.

People can also use the StoryTeller app with social media. It interfaces with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Soon, it will also connect with Vine. Newsrooms can use the social media function to sort through the information and pre-screen all posts for on-air use. AccuWeather was at booth SL-6819 at NAB 2014.