Facebook’s Messenger Platform Adds New Ways to Connect With Friends & Businesses

facebook f8One of the main announcements from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the launch of Facebook’s new Messenger Platform, which will open the Messenger SDK to third-party apps and services, as well as a new customer service initiative that allows customers connect with businesses directly over Facebook Messenger.

Users will be able to access third-party Messenger content apps via a button next to the options for adding photos or stickers. Using these apps, users can create custom GIFs, videos, and other personalized content and send their creations to friends and family through Messenger. The recipient will receive a link to download or open the third-party app to view and respond to the message with their own content. Facebook’s David Marcus emphasized that the content apps will not be included within Facebook Messenger, but will remain standalone apps that link to Messenger:

“If we added a 10th of the capabilities [directly to Messenger] that we’ve added with partners today, it would make it really slow… If you don’t want to use those things, you’re not forced to… because those experiences don’t live inside of Messenger. It’s not like the overall experience of the app is getting very bloated.”

The Messenger platform will launch with support for a wide range of popular apps, including ESPN, Bitmoji, JibJab, Legend, Ultratest, Ditty, Giphy, FlipLip, ClipDis, Memes, PicCollage, Kanvas, Action Mobile FX, Boostr, Camoji, Cleo Video Texting, Clips, Dubsmash, Effectify, EmotionAR, EMU, Fotor, Gif Keyboard, GifJam, Hook’d, Imgur, Imoji, Keek, Magisto, Meme Generator, Noah Camera, Pic Stitch, PingTank, Score on Friends, Selfied, Shout, StayFilm, Facebook Stickered, Strobe, Tackl, Talking Tom, Tempo, The Weather Channel, to.be Camera, and Wordeo. More apps will undoubtedly follow as developers have a chance to experiment with the SDK.

Facebook also hopes to improve interaction between customers and businesses by bringing the intuitive Messenger experience to the marketplace. Facebook has partnered with businesses like Zulily and Everlane to allow customers to cancel, modify, and track orders directly within Messenger. Integration with ZenDesk and other customer service platforms will let businesses to respond to customer inquiries through Messenger as well. In addition, businesses will be able to send push notifications to consumers’ devices, even if the business itself does not have its own app.

Although no monetization strategy has been announced for Messenger’s new business features, it’s likely that the information Facebook gleans from these customer-to-business interactions, such as where users shop and what products they buy, will allow for improved ad targeting, perhaps leading to more profits from Facebook’s ad platform down the line.

All in all, the improvements to Messenger seem to confirm that Facebook is continuing its efforts to differentiate from the competition and protect its substantial market share. The emphasis they’re placing on keeping third-party functionality separate from the core Messenger app also coincides with Facebook’s gradual transition from an all-in-one app to multiple apps for specific functionalities.

What do you think of Facebook’s F8 announcements? Which of Messenger’s new features are you excited to try out?

Dell XPS Transition

xpsOver the past 5 weeks I have been using a Dell XPS exclusively. This in part was a challenge by the Dell team. For years I have always purchased laptops with large foot-prints. I was beyond upset when Apple cacnceled the 17 inch MacBook Pro and for the past 2-3 years have used 17 inch Windows based latop.

So I was highly skeptical when I received the 13 inch Dell XPS that the transition would go well. Not only has the transition to this laptop went well for daily use but the way I travel. Here is the list game changers with this laptop.

  • QHD Display Screen Resolution 3200 x 1800
  • Footprint
  • Keyboard & Trackpad
  • Power Supply
  • Battery Life 11+ Hours

Lets talk about each of the items on my list. The 13.3 Quad HD+ display has 5.7 million pixels (that’s over 4.4 million more than the MBA 13 with HD+)  The 13.3 inch screen border from the lid edge is incredibly narrow, and is how Dell was able to put a 13 inch screen within a 11 inch laptop footprint. The 3200 x 1800 screen resolution is simply mind blowing.

The keyboard and mouse have great response and is one of the biggest selling features for me. I am quite picky about my keyboards and I have found the XPS keyboard and trackpad a delight to use.

The power supply for the XPS is simply no bigger than most cell phone chagers its tiny and unlike most laptops that require a brick. This power supply is tiny in comparisson to most laptop power supplies.

The battery life of the XPS is simply incredible. I have been using the XPS on a regular basis for 8-9 hours daily off the power supply and still have plenty of battery charge to spare. Dell says you can get 11 hrs on QHD+ with up to 7 additional hours with the Dell Power Companion

I am not sure how they do it to be honest with you. You have this beautiful bright screen and great performance with the 5th Generation Intel Core Processor and yet the battery life is unparalled with any laptop I have ever used.

I have used the XPS continously over the past five week and it has exceded all my expectations. At this point I feel my transition to a smaller footprint laptop complete, and I look forward to using this laptop for the forceable future. I highly recommend the Dell XPS 13 to anyone considering a new laptop.

Resource Links: Dell XPS Story, Dell Store, Dell XPS Product Page

Note: Dell Provided the Dell XPS 13 for my review. Like any product reviewed at Geek News Central the product has been used as noted in the review.

YouTube goes 360, upload and view immersive videos

YouTube

YouTube

Watching a video is one thing, but watching one in full surround is quite another matter. The technology makes for better immersion in your viewing experience, though it’s tricky to shoot and has been more difficult to upload and let people view your wonderful clips. That is changing now as YouTube introduces the technology to upload these clips.

“You could let viewers see the stage and the crowd of your concert, the sky and the ground as you wingsuit glide, or you could even have a choose-your-own-adventure video where people see a different story depending on where they look. Only you know what’s possible”, says project manager Sanjeev Verma.

This will be available via the YouTube app for Android — simply move your phone or tablet around to scroll around the screen. Users can also do the same with YouTube.comand Chrome by utilizing the mouse to roll around the video.

“To make it easy for you to create and upload 360-degree videos to YouTube, we’ve been working with companies across the industry. BublcamGiroptic’s 360camIC Real Tech’s AllieKodak’s SP360 and RICOH THETA are 360-degree video cameras compatible with YouTube that are available today or are coming soon” the announcement reads.

If you happen to be located near Los Angeles then you can stop by the YouTube Space L.A. and learn more about what is happening. The show is being hosted by the Creator Team and will run  into April. Google promises that it will “blow your mind”.

Robot Underpants: 03.11.15 (191) “The REAL Robot Underpants”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and Kathy Hopkins bring you this week’s latest, including: Tron news, Star Wars news, Ghostbusters for Men, Apple Watch news and more!

* Tron 3
* Ghostbuster for Men
* Office Space with actual Michael Bolton
* George Lucas buys comics

Brilens LS-1280 Review

brilensls1280

brilens2

At CES 2015 I got my first look at the Brilens LS-1280 DLP Projector. This brand out of China unlike other projector manufactures has put together a quality product. Over the past couple of weeks I have been able to use it and then last evening watched several movies with it. Let me start out by saying they only sell it via Amazon, but the company has been very responsive to my questions. This is the latest in a full line of projectors they have brought to market.

This 1280×800 resolution projector uses a hybrid laser/led light with a 50,000 hour predicted life span. The manufacture states a 3800 lumen brightness rating, that is simply incredible in the $999 asking price. I have a BenQ projector with 4000 lumen rating, and side by side the Brilens brightness level appears to be slightly lower when viewed from the same video source. This follows logic, plus the BenQ projector was a “lot” more expensive when I purchased it new several years ago. The Brilens projector is very bright for its footprint. We had no issue watching movies with it in a partially lighted room.

I did though have to make adjustments to the default color, to get the picture the way I wanted it. It has several preset modes, but the preset modes seemed a bit saturated to me. Making the manual adjustments resulted in a great picture. One thing I think is pretty amazing is that because the projector uses a LED/Laser for the light source the projector never gets hot as compared to some of the projectors on the market today that get very warm.

There are a variety of inputs 2x HDMI, Composite, VGA. You can select media from a SD slot or hook up ad external hard drive. The projector is relatively small at 10 x 7.5 x 2.5. The projector is 3.5 pounds but the external power supply came with it is probably another 4 pounds. I also received an external battery pack to power the projector, and this is one of the stand out items. The battery was rated at 6000 mah with an output power of 12vdc which was enough to run the projector for several hours on a single charge. The unit shipped in a very nice box, one that I will keep and store the projector in. It comes with all the cables needed to get started.

The projector also has a 3D mode that I was able to test and was surprised on how well it did. Being this projector is 1280×800 resolution, I would likely use this for gaming or casual movie watching. In fact I took it with me on a recent trip with me and I was pleased with the performance. In the video below you can hear from the Brilens team.

So if you are looking for a multi-feature projector that will not break the bank then give the Brilens First Laser Projector Ls1280 1280 X 800 50 000:1 Osram DLP 3d Projector a try.

Dell XPS 13 Experience

dellxpsOver the past 3 weeks I have been using a Dell XPS 13 provided by Dell as my primary laptop. Over the last couple of years I have switched between a Macbook and a Windows laptop.

I was honestly skeptical that I would like the smaller form factor as I have always had big screen laptops. In a very short time I have absolutely fallen in love with the Dell XPS. Let me share a little about the tech specs . The machine that Dell sent me again was the XPS 13 with an Intel 5th gen core processor, 8GB of ram, 256GB SSD Drive, backpack, transport sleeve & power companion. It came with Microsoft Office loaded and of course Windows 8.1

My first impression pulling it out of the box was wow this thing is lightweight weighing in @ 2.6 pounds, very  sturdy with aluminium and composite materials . Boot up time was incredibly fast, and what really blew me away was the screen. The Dell team spared no expense in getting the monitor to have absolutely minimal edge distance from screen border to the edge of the lid.

Their engineering team stuffed a 13.3 inch display in what would normally be a 11 inch ultrabook form factor. The Dell XPS 13 is currently the smallest 13 inch laptop on the planet. A buddy of mine with a Macbook Air was really wowed with the screen resoltion and form factor. With 5.7 Million pixels the Quad HD+ display is 4.4 million more pixels than the MacBook Air.

In the past when I left the house I would pack up the laptop and the power supply which usually weighs as much as a laptop, the Dell XPS 13 power supply is another home run it’s not much bigger than a cell phone charger. Even as small as the charger is I started leaving the charger at home during the day after a trip to California. Here is my battery usage case. I spent 2+ hours at the departing airport on the XPS working due to a flight delay. I then used the laptop on the Aircraft WiFi for about 5 hours catching up on email, Google docs etc.. Then when I arrived at my hotel late in the evening, I checked email and did a lengthy Skype video call to my wife all the while on battery.  I went to bed forgetting to plug in the laptop and charge it. Running a bit late in the morning, I left the hotel with the battery still having about 30% charge. I used the laptop on and off that day only reverting to charge it with the Dell Power Companion in the early evening. In summary the battery life is simply incredible I really do not know how they do it.

My usage of the laptop has largely been web based and a handful of applications including an Autocad drawing reader. I did do a little bit of Audio editing with Adobe Audition, and the laptop performed as I would expect for a Intel i5. If I was going to be doing any heavy video editing I would likely want the i7 version of the XPS. The team at Dell put a lot of thought into this laptop the keyboard is remarkable I do not say that lightly as I am pretty picky. I used both an external mouse and the trackpad and had no issues either way. Nothing to really add about the touch screen as it performs as advertised.

I have received a lot of compliments and questions asked about the XPS  when I have been out in public it attracts attention. I feel very comfortable travelling with the laptop and feel that it will handle what I will be throwing at it. The transition to the smaller screen was not an issue with the incredible screen resolution. It sure makes my mobile bag much lighter leaving me room for other gear.

As configured my laptop specs out a $1140 prices start though at $799, you can get your own at one of these two fine online locations Dell or Microsoft. There is quite a back story to the Dell XPS that is a worth read and of course check out the XPS product page.  This laptop has received a lot of awards and now I know why.

Disclaimer: Dell has provided for free the XPS and accessories for this review. All Geek News Central Reviews are done so under real world conditions and not in some lab. All opinions are those of the author.

Uber’s data breached in 2014

Marco Rubio Speech On Innovation At Uber's DC Offices

More bad news for Uber, as the company said in a press release that 50,000 of their drivers may have had personal information stolen from the company’s databases in 2014.

In late 2014, we identified a one-time access of an Uber database by an unauthorized third party. A small percentage of current and former Uber driver partner names and driver’s license numbers were contained in the database. Immediately upon discovery we changed the access protocols for the database, removing the possibility of unauthorized access.  We are notifying impacted drivers, but we have not received any reports of actual misuse of information as a result of this incident.

 

Robot Underpants: 02.25.15 (190) “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines, Kathy Hopkins and “Karaoke” Bob bring you this week’s latest and greatest, including: Cleveland Comic Con review, Lou Ferrigno interview, Aquaman news, Alien news, Power Rangers short film, Oscars, new Duck Tales, new Pee Wee Herman movie, and more!

Interview with Lou Ferrigno
Karen Gillan Clip
Bruce Campbell Clip
Corey Feldman Clip
Billy Boyd and Graham McTavish Clip

Cleveland Comic Con

Power/Rangers
Aquaman
E Kiss
Alien Movie News
Jeb Bush’s Frank Zappa Wedding Photos

Voiceboard Brings Interactive Presentations to CES

Voiceboard logo

Technology is changing the way we live, communicate, and work. Innovations in smart technology are making collaboration with coworkers easier and more effective than ever, and Voiceboard is great example of how technology is changing the world for the better.

Scott talked with Nigel Sharp from Lionsharp, Inc. about their latest product, an interactive presentation technology called Voiceboard. With both voice and gesture control, Voiceboard’s innovative application enhances your office presentations and allows you to manage slideshows, display web pages, play videos, and much more.

Voiceboard is available for purchase at www.voiceboard.info for $599, or search for “Voiceboard” on Kickstarter.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Stay Hydrated with H2OPal at CES

h2opal logoStaying hydrated is key for maintaining a good baseline of personal health. But do we really know how much water we’re taking in every day? Sure, many fitness-tracking apps will let us log how much water we’ve had, but they rely on manual input, and it’s not always easy to remember just how many trips we’ve taken to the water cooler on any given day.

Jamie met up with Matej Marjanovic, cofounder of H2oPal, a device that attaches to any water bottle and tracks water consumption. H2oPal then automatically sends that information to a smartphone app so there’s no guesswork as to just how much water has been consumed throughout the day.

H2oPal is currently available for preorder, with an expected retail price of between $80 and $100. Matej said that customers who order early will likely be offered a discount.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

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