Snapchat Scores Nike’s Director Of Digital To Win Sports Partnerships

Snapchat could be the new way to experience sporting events from afar. At the very least, sports and athletics brands are jumping up and down trying to reach the young, active demographic Snapchat has captured. That’s why the ephemeral app’s latest hire has so much potential. Snapchat just poached Eric Toda, Nike’s global director of digital, to help run its business and partnerships team, a source familiar with the move confirmed to me. Snapchat is still getting back to me with more details on the hire.

Toda could get more sports venues and teams using Snapchat’s Our Story feature to create collaborative, decentralized live streams of their events. He might also assist with setting up geofilters for stadiums, and teaching brands how to make Snapchat content that feels fun and authentic, rather than like stodgy ads.

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The timing makes sense for Toda. Nike’s seen talent on its technological side slip away since it announced layoffs in its FuelBand division amid rumors it planned to shut down the wearable unit. Nike’s CEO went on to reveal the company would focus on software rather than hardware. Its social media chief Musa Tariq recently left for Apple, which along with Nest, Intel, Oculus and Microsoft has reportedly been courting Nike’s engineering talent.

But Nike’s loss is Snapchat’s gain. Toda’s one-year stint at Nike included work on “social media, content, licensed apparel, e-commerce, mobile applications, entertainment (video games), media, digital/retail, and content syndication.” All that should come in handy at Snapchat. Before that, he spent four-and-a-half years working on media and marketing solutions for Facebook.

Snapchat has already dipped its toes into sports, running an Our Story for the World Cup final, and signing up pro teams. It’s even made special geofilters users can overlay on their photos taken at sports stadiums or gyms like Soul Cycle.

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Snapchat might be the perfect social app for sports, because both are inherently ephemeral. When you talk about a game in progress on Facebook or Twitter, your post lives on forever even though the match is soon over and your content becomes irrelevant. But nothing on Snapchat sticks around longer than 24 hours. That means you can cheer when your team scores without worrying about looking dumb if they end up losing. If Toda can sell sports brands on the ability to deliver the same urgency and heat of the moment through Snapchat that people get on the field, fans might start checking the app as often as ESPN.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organized

5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organized

Why get a personal secretary when your smartphone can organize your day, your minutes, your business trips and even your clutter?

For entrepreneurs, having a smartphone loaded with the right kind of apps not only provides a way to hold you accountable for tasks at hands but also allows you to focus on what you do best: running a business.

1. Evernote.

An easy-to-use app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. It not only allows you to take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists, scan business cards and record voice reminders but also makes everything searchable. As an entrepreneur you tend to attend so many meetings, seminars or conferences that keep you away from the comfort of your office that you need an app to stay organized and improve your overall productivity.

2. TripIt.

Entrepreneurs travel, which means logistics, schedules, last-minute delays and confirmations. TripIt keeps it all in one place. By simply forwarding your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, you can get a detailed daily itinerary for every trip. The app is so useful that it makes sure you focus on where you are going rather than how you are getting there.

3. UberConference.

With a shoestring budget that every entrepreneur rides on, you can barely afford to make overseas calls every day. That’s when apps such as UberConference come in handy. It’s one of the most convenient ways of doing a conference call without burning a hole in your pocket. Every free membership starts off with a maximum conference call size of five but by linking with social media accounts, you get rewarded with a cap increase up to a total of 17. Not a bad deal.

4. Scanner Pro.

Scribbling brilliant ideas at the back of a napkin in a conference, paying nasty bills for a big client or simply writing a process on whiteboard. These are things that get easily washed away from your memory (and wallet) the next day that you wish you had a pocket scanner to keep a record. Scanner Pro transforms your iPhone and iPad into portable scanners. So next time you have a brainwave, you know which app to tap on.

5. Dropbox.

We all know that Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. And while everyone probably has it on their computers, Dropbox’s mobile app is an even better option for entrepreneurs. Being able to access your files anywhere you go is invaluable. You can see a document on your smartphone, laptop and tablet seamlessly. It saves time and money.

 

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

iPhone 6 Plus Review: The First Truly Well-Designed Big Smartphone

iPhone 6 Plus Review: The First Truly Well-Designed Big Smartphone

Apple is launching not one, but two premium smartphones today, and the iPhone 6 Plus is the one many probably were skeptical even existed just a few short months ago. With a screen size measuring 5.5-inches across the diagonal, it’s well into the territory labeled “phablet” on the ancient sea charts of mariners who’ve braved the Android waters. However, Apple’s version of a smartphone that strains the inclusion of “phone” in any word describing it might surprise even those dead set against the trend toward ever-bigger mobile screens.

Basics

  • 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, 401 ppi with 1300:1 contrast
  • 16, 64 or 128GB storage
  • A8 processor (64-bit)
  • 8MP iSight camera (rear) with 1.5 micron pixels and optical image stabilization, 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera (front)
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • 20-band LTE support
  • MSRP: 16GB for $299 on contract/$749 contract free; 64GB for $399 on contract/$849 contract free; 128GB for $499 on contract/$949 contract free
  • Product info page

Pros

  • Larger screen is great for productivity and media consumption
  • Battery and camera noticeably better than iPhone 6

Cons

  • Not a one-handed device for most
  • Priced above even the usual premium segment

Design

The iPhone 6 Plus is literally an exaggerated version of the iPhone 6 in terms of its physical design, with dimensions stretched to accommodate its much larger 5.5-inch display. It’s 0.01-inches thicker, just under half-an inch wider, and just under an inch taller than the iPhone 6, and you’ll notice each of those increases in the hand, including the additional thickness, even if it is just a shade of difference. In terms of carrying and holding the device, the additional size makes for a less ‘perfect’ ergonomic quality, something the iPhone 6 definitely achieves, but there’s still lots to love about the industrial design of the 6 Plus.

  • Like the iPhone 6, it benefits from rounded edges and smooth surfaces that recall the iPad mini and iPad Air. The curved sides make it easier to page back and forth through content with swipes, and it’s easy to imagine how a design with right angles would’ve resulted in an uncomfortable grip with a device this size. The screen is also the star here, and that 5.5-inch high res beauty is set off by thin side bezels, and top and bottom bezels that appear much smaller since they take up a far smaller percentage of the overall front surface of the device.

    Attention to detail is Apple’s forte, and that’s apparent in the way the volume keys, relocated power button (it’s on the right side now) and lock switch are all machined. Perforations including the speaker holes on the bottom right are similarly well-executed, and overall the sense you get of the iPhone 6 Plus is one of extreme high quality, which is not something that can be said for the rest of the ‘phablet’ field. Apple has managed to make the very first well-designed smartphone of epic scale, regardless of your thoughts on the merit of the category as a whole.

    Performance

    The iPhone 6 Plus may be powering a much larger display, and it may need to output content at a higher resolution, but it’s not showing any additional strain vs. the iPhone 6 despite the extra legwork required. The 64-bit A8 process that Apple has designed, which uses a new, smaller and more power-efficient 20nm process, is more than up to the task of serving up animations, swipes, switches and multitasking for the 6 Plus.

    If you’re new to the world of iOS and iPhone, you’ll probably just note that the performance is excellent and move on. But if you’re upgrading from an older device, like perhaps the iPhone 4 or 4S, you’re going to instantly take note of just how speedy everything is with this new processor architecture. The screen sizes are stealing headlines, but the performance of the A8, in graphics-intensive applications and in rendering interface flourishes, means that you’ll be feeling the effects of Apple’s next-generation processor improvements long after people are used to the bigger displays.

    iphone-6-lteThe iPhone 6 Plus, like the iPhone 6, also features faster wireless performance, on both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. The 802.11ac Wi-Fi felt blazingly fast when used on my home network, which is run from a current-generation Airport Extreme that supports the latest Wi-Fi speeds. LTE is now able to handle up to 150 mbps connections, where supported (and with 20 bands supported on a single model number, you’re more likely to find it works with carriers around the world). Apple has also worked with carriers to get LTE roaming working with more international carrier arrangements, and I found that my AT&T testing sim provided a strong Rogers LTE connection here in Canada.

    Features

    Apple has brought a number of great new features to both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, including Apple Pay, which works as advertised in demos but will launch publicly in October in the U.S., and ‘Focus Pixels’ phase detection autofocus for faster, better picture taking. But there are a few featues that are specific to the iPhone 6 Plus that make it a device destined to appeal to both power users and everyday customers looking to simplify their life with a single gadget, instead of requiring both a tablet and phone (and even a computer).

    iphone-6-plus-touch-assistReachability is the feature Apple created to help users deal with much larger devices, regardless of the size of their hands and digits. The iPhone 6 Plus leans on this especially, as it’s impossible for anyone not in the NBA to reach their thumb across to the top opposite corner. I find it difficult to even reach across the other side of the screen, let alone the corner, when one-handing the device. Reachability helps reach the stuff that’s in the top row, but it doesn’t bring down the status bar on the Home screen (it does in app), which would be helpful, and it’s still a stretch to reach the relocated opposite corner.

    For most tasks, I find the iPhone 6 Plus to be a two-handed device – but I also find that I’m absolutely fine with that. The 6 Plus is closer in usage style to an iPad mini, in my experience, albeit one that’s pocketable and capable of full cellular voice communications. Part of the reason that it works so well as a tablet-style gadget is that Apple has introduced special landscape support for both the homescreen and some its first-party apps, which really add to my ability to be productive using them.

    The apps in question include Mail, Messages and Calendar, and these now offer up overviews in a column on the left, and detail views on the right, much like they do on tablet or desktop devices. In Mail, it lets you quickly scroll through and triage your email without having to constantly swipe back and forth, and in Messages, it lets you keep abreast of the latest goings on in multiple conversations at once. Using these landscape views effectively almost requires two-handed use, but it ends up feeling well worth the trade-off.

    Apple has also introduced new optical image stabilization for still pictures to the iPhone 6 Plus, and the effects are very impressive. That’s something I’ll address in greater detail in the ‘Camera’ section below.

    The new Slow-Mo function captures action slowed down even further than before, and as you can see in the demo video above, that makes for some fun results. In particular, if you pay attention to the moments when Chelsea licks her lips in the video above, you can see just how good the new video feature is at capturing even blink-of-an-eye action in painstaking detail.

    Display

    iphone-6-plus-display
    The iPhone 6 Plus has the best screen of any iPhone. It’s above that of either the iPhone 6 or 5s in terms of pixel density, and it’s capable of playing back full HD content in native resolution. The improved contrast and color rendering Apple has also worked into its screen tech is also even more obvious here than it is on the iPhone 6, and that results in a display that’s perfect for viewing photos or watching movies, as well as for showing off well-designed apps and software.

    By the numbers, the iPhone 6 Plus’ display offers 88 percent more viewing area that the iPhone 5s, but at a cost of just 55 percent more volume. That means that while it’s very big, it’s not nearly as gigantic as if they’d just increased the proportions of the 5s. The screen trade-offs have real benefits for certain kinds of users beyond just enabling landscape mode, too – with Display Zoom, all interface elements suddenly become easier to read even for those with age-related vision loss, and that’s going to be a big selling point.

    I showed my mother both phones and she was instantly drawn to the larger display of the 6 Plus. For these users, too, the 6 Plus can represent a single-device computing solution; it replicates much of the functionality of a tablet, with additional portability, and if you don’t do much beyond browsing the web, or interacting with the rich field of current apps, you’ll be better-served by this with its always-on connectivity than you would by even the combo of a smaller phone and a Chromebook, for instance.

    Camera

    iphone-6-plus-cameraApple’s other big selling point here, besides the advantages of a larger display, is the improved camera. Thanks to extra space inside the iPhone 6 Plus, it managed to fit in an optical image stabilization module, which can actually shift the camera lens around both vertically and horizontally to capture a clear image free of the camera shake that can afflict photos taken freehand. And the optical stabilization, in addition to the software-based stabilization Apple already uses in its iPhone camera, results in a photo-taking experience like no other.

    As you can see, it works great both indoors and out, and produces some of the best looking low light photos I’ve seen out of a mobile device. The iPhone 6 Plus image stabilization results in pictures that look crisp even when captured casually, and Apple’s new autofocus tricks mean there’s almost no waiting before a scene is properly focused and exposed, with as little manual intervention as possible. You can still manually adjust the point of focus and exposure, but the camera is smart enough that in most cases, you shouldn’t have to.

    Apple’s video recording stabilization means you can stroll and shoot with results that aren’t debilitating to watch, and that’s a big plus. The optical image stabilization works for still images only, but software-based anti-shake is in action in the clip above, and it helps make the iPhone’s movie capture another highlight of the overall camera package.

    Battery

    The iPhone 6 Plus has another trick up its sleeve, aside from the optical image stabilization and the landscape orientation bonuses: Better battery life. The improved powerhouse on the 6 Plus affords it a full 10 hours more talk time compared to the iPhone 6, plus an additional 6 days of standby time (16 in total), as well as 2 more hours of browsing on 3G and LTE. It’s a trick that, with mixed use, resulted in at least a full day of extra use over the iPhone 6 in my testing, which could stretch to even longer if I used it only sparingly. During one cycle, where I used my phone only a few times a day to check calls, weather and messages, I got over three days of standby time and nearly 11 hours of use.

    This alone might be enough reason to get people to opt for the 6 Plus over the 6, and it definitely helps increase the overall appeal of Apple’s big phone. Accustomed as I am to using my phone during the day and plugging it in when I get home in the evening, however, it’s not as great of concern – but already there have been a few times when an extended lack of readily available outlets have shown the merits of the 6 Plus and its capacious power core.

    Bottom Line

    iphone-6-plus-rear-low-close
    The iPhone 6 is still the best smartphone for your money in my opinion, owing mostly to the fact that the majority of people are going to feel most comfortable using a smaller device as their daily companion of choice. But the iPhone 6 Plus surprised me: I went into this review expecting to find it was a niche gadget, reserved for those seeking the absolute top-of-the-line, convenience be damned. Instead, I found myself getting strangely comfortable with a phone I still find difficult to use one-handed. In short, the 6 is my favorite current smartphone, but the 6 Plus is its closest competition.

    I suspect we’ll see the trade-offs Apple has made in building a phone on this scale downplayed further by the introduction of the Apple Watch next year, as it means the iPhone 6 Plus can stay in the pocket for small things like seeing a message or figuring out why it just vibrated to indicate some kind of inbound notification. Even know, it’s a device well worth your consideration, and if you’re thinking about which to purchase, you should consider how much you value: 1) The ability to more easily manage communications from your pocket; 2) Having energy reserves at the end of the day; 3) Putting the best possible mobile camera in your pocket; or 4) Replacing up to three devices with just one for casual users. If you rate any of these things as high priority, then the 6 Plus might be the better choice.

    -Courtesy: Techcrunch

    What Steve Jobs Got Wrong About the IPhone

    The launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus–and the latter’s massive 5.5-inch screen–appear to prove Apple founder Steve Jobs was completely wrong when he said in 2010 “no one” would want to buy a phone with a big screen.

    And while this sort of hindsight wisdom feels a little bit tawdry, it actually cuts to the heart of what is driving the $276 billion smartphone market right now: screen size.

    Apple launched its new phone with 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens for a reason: Rival companies, particularly Samsung, have spent the past two years building a market in a space that Apple ignored–the market for people who want big, bright screens that are great for consuming media and doing work.

    To recap: Jobs launched iPhone and its initial updates with a 3.5-inch screen. When the iPhone 4 ran into trouble because it appeared to drop calls when users held it the “wrong” way, Jobs held a news conference. He was asked, why not just make the phone bigger, so that the antenna might have more space within the device and thus get better reception?

    He replied that he disliked the new crop of bigger phones from Samsung et al. “You can’t get your hand around it,” he said, “no one’s going to buy that.” He also derided big phones as “Hummers.”

    By 2013, however, executives within Apple began to rethink that. Internal documents from that time show that iPhone sales growth was slowing, even though the market as a whole was growing. All the growth was in the sub-$300 price range and among phones with screens bigger than 4 inches. “Consumers want what we don’t have,” was the title of one slide in the documents.

    Another document showed that Apple’s own customers placed the small screen size of the iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S among their top complaints about the devices. The iPhone’s small screen size actually seemed to be a liability for Apple, not–as Jobs argued three years earlier–an advantage.

    (The leading big-screen devices in this market were, of course, Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note phones, with their 5-inch-plus screens. The Note 4 now comes in a 5.7-inch size. It’s an interesting exercise to ask Note owners how they like their big screens and whether they would ever consider going back to an iPhone-size 4-inch model. You will find the answer is always “no”–consumers love big screens.)

    So it is notable that both the new iPhone 6 models are big-screen phones, of 4.7 and 5.5 inches.

    There is no “iPhone 6 Mini,” giving people the option of a Jobsian 3.5-inch screen.

    Samsung poured scorn on Jobs in a piece of marketing fluff released to counter the iPhone 6 launch. It produced this graphic, which actually misquotes Jobs as saying “No one is going to buy a big phone.”

    The response underlines one of the strangest things about Jobs’ big-screen error. When the iPhone became a huge hit at its launch in 2007, with a 3.5-inch screen, its screen at the time was itself one of the biggest displays on the market.

    Consumers were used to candy-bar phones from Nokia, on which most of the device was given over to the keypad and the screen had room for little more than a name and a number. BlackBerry was still huge at the time, one of the reasons being that it had a screen that was a little larger than a Nokia candy bar, and you could type emails onto it.

    The original iPhone provided even more real estate than that, letting people consume real media and apps.

    In hindsight, it’s not weird that Jobs might have been wrong about consumer preference for screen sizes in the four years following his death. Rather, it’s weird that he didn’t acknowledge that the iPhone’s (relatively) big screen size was actually driving its popularity while he was alive.

    The iPhone (at launch) was the biggest screen on the market. Jobs didn’t seem to see that as the key.

    Here’s the current lineup, size-wise:

    -Courtesy: Inc.com

    The Apple Event: What’s Probably Coming

    The Apple Event: What's Probably Coming
    The Apple media cycle is in full swing. Since the company alerted reporters last week to a “secretive” event coming up on Tuesday in Cupertino, California, there’s been little else to discuss in the world of tech—except for some stolen celebrity photos that were reportedly taken from Apple’s iCloud service. (Apple denied that its system was breached.)

    Here’s what we know, or think we might know, about next week’s show.

    An iPhone 6 is on the way. The biggest change from the previous generation of devices, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, will be a bigger screen. One version will have a 4.7-inch display (up from 4 inches for the iPhone 5), and Apple will also introduce the iPhone “6L,” with a 5.5-inch screen, as a competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Note, Munster predicted.

    From a financial standpoint, Stuart Jeffrey of Nomura Securities warns that the larger device could eat into sales of the iPad mini, which stands almost 8 inches tall. Numerous reports suggest that Apple will double the maximum amount of storage in the new phones to 128 gigabytes.

    Apple’s long-awaited entrance into the wearable computing market is likely upon us. The iWatch, or whatever name the device ends up with, has been a favorite topic of speculation for almost two years. The watch will give consumers access to Apple’s iOS operating system on their wrists, taking on Android-powered smartwatches from Samsung and LG.

    To help with the launch, Apple recently hired the sales director of luxury Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer. According to Munster, there’s only a 50 percent chance of a smartwatch being announced on Tuesday, because Apple may prefer not to “dilute some of the attention from the core product.”

    Another feature of the iPhone 6 could be a chip for mobile payments based on near-field communication. That’s the technology that Google backed, with too little fanfare to make it successful. If Apple can do it, the company would go from being a major force in digital payments to a viable player in the physical world.

    Munster handicapped the odds of Apple announcing a payments feature at 70 percent. Analysts at Barclays view the treasure trove of data that Apple could gather in the payments space and then provide to customers as a big potential boon. Other analysts believe that payments will be a significant feature of Apple’s watch.

    “Ultimately, we believe the pivot toward software and services and the rise of a more comprehensive enterprise strategy could help Apple become much more than just a hardware company,” Ben Reitzes and Darrin Peller of Barclays wrote.

    As for what else is in the pipeline, Bloomberg News reported on Aug. 26, citing sources familiar with the matter, that Apple’s suppliers are set to start building a new iPad with a 12.9-inch display, almost 3 inches taller than the flagship model. But don’t expect CEO Tim Cook to talk about that just yet.

    The big unveiling comes as many analysts are souring on the stock, either because of skepticism about the company’s upcoming products, or because of fears that the recent hacking scandal could permanently damage the brand.

    The stock dropped 4 percent earlier in the week after a Pacific Crest Securities analyst said investors should take profits ahead of the product launch. As of midmorning Friday, the stock was trading slightly less than $99 per share.

    -Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

    The only thing missing from Tile, the Bluetooth tracking gadget, is more users (review)

    The only thing missing from Tile, the Bluetooth tracking gadget, is more users (review)

    In 2013, a crowdfunded project known as the Tile became a smash hit, racking up over $2,500,000 in funding from nearly 50,000 backers. The secret to its success? Simple: The Tile promised to help users locate any object attached to the coin-sized Bluetooth-connected tag priced at $20.

    I signed on as a backer mostly out of curiosity. After all, compared to some crowdfunded tech projects like the Pebble, the 3Doodler or the Micro 3D printer, the $20 Tile seemed like a no-brainer.

    So I committed my cash and then, just like thousands of others, I began a very long wait for my Tile to arrive. I had almost given up hope of ever seeing a Tile in the flesh when finally — nearly a year after having backed the project — my Tile showed up last week.

    “So far we’ve delivered to over 50,000 people,” Nick Evans, Tile’s co-founder and CEO said in an interview with VentureBeat.

    I guess I was lucky to be amongst the first third of buyers. Evans sympathizes with those who feel the wait has been too long, “I’ve pre-ordered items too and there can be a lot of frustration, like, where is this thing? We’re working as hard as we can to get everyone’s Tiles to them.”

    The Tile, seen beside a set of typical house keys.

    First impressions

    My neighbor ordered a Tile at the same time I did and his showed up the same day as mine. “It’s a lot bigger than I expected,” he said. It’s true: The Tile looks and feels a lot larger in real life than it did in the photos and videos that the Tile’s creator, Reveal Labs, posted to their website during the funding period.

    Wondering why both my neighbor and I (and other reviewers) had the same reaction, I checked one of the ads that was — and is still — used to promote the Tile. Sure enough, the image Tile chose does an excellent job of masking the Tile’s thickness. The ad makes it appear as though the Tile is barely thicker than a coin — or a key for that matter.

    The actual dimensions are 37mm x 37mm x 5.3 mm. The effect is that, when attached to a keychain, the Tile feels more like the largest object on your ring, not just another key.

    If you were to judge the Tile's dimensions purely from this ad, you'd probably think it was a lot thinner than it really is.

    Evans claims there was no attempt to mislead customers and that the Tile used in these promotional images is the same size, shape and thickness as the units that have been shipped: “That’s the actual size. We of course wanted to advertise the correct size […] we didn’t want people to be disappointed,” he says.

    The other issue with Tile being so big is that it’s going to seriously bulk up the profile of some objects when attached via the included adhesive patch.

    The Tile’s casing is made of a glossy white plastic and, though its profile has rounded corners, the edges are quite sharp. It’s definitely tough enough to withstand being slotted through a standard metal tension-style key ring.

    How it works

    Getting a Tile set up is very easy. After you download the free Tile app (iOS only, for now), enable Bluetooth and location services, and register for a free Tile account, the app prompts you to add your first Tile.

    To do so, simply press and hold on the “e” portion of the “tile” word on the Tile until the Tile emits a little tune and hold the Tile close to your iOS device when prompted to do so. Your Tile is now paired. You can add up to 8 Tiles per account.

    tile-app tile-app-add-a-tile tile-app-name-tile
    tile-app-add-photo IMG_2191 tile-app-map

    The Tile app will always show you the last place it “saw” (i.e., where it was in direct Bluetooth contact with) your Tile and how long ago it saw it.

    To locate your missing Tile, start by going to that last known location. Once there, tap the Tile from your list to bring up the Find screen.

    If a grey circle surrounds your Tile, it means your Tile is still out of the approximate 150 feet of Bluetooth range.

    tile-app-list-view tile-out-of-range tile-app-signal-strength

    Once you’re within range, the circle will switch to green. You can now tap on the Find button, which tells the Tile to start emitting a digital tune. It’s not especially loud, so unless you’re indoors, with very few competing sounds, you probably won’t hear it until you’re almost on top of it. I found that when I was outside, with the Tile in my jeans pocket, I was only barely able to hear it.

    This is what the Tile sounds like when you tap the Find button. Kind of. Maybe if you held it up to your ear. This was recorded with the Tile placed 2 inches from my iPhone’s mic.

    What isn’t immediately obvious is that you can tap the Tile icon in the app to see a real-time signal-strength indicator, which can help you get close enough to the Tile to hear it. If only one segment of the circle is lit, you’re at the outer edge of the Tile’s range. The segments fill in one by one until you’re within the Tile’s maximum signal strength radius (about 5-8 feet). Evans says that the decision to “hide” the signal strength indicator was intentional: “It can be a little confusing for users who are not too advanced,” he says.

    A killer community

    I gave my Tile to my neighbor to take with him to work. My Tile app was able to locate it perfectly.

    So what happens when your Tile can’t be located by going back to the last place your app saw it?

    Tile calls it the “Community Find” feature. Turns out, every person who keeps the Tile app open on their iOS device becomes a node in a much larger Tile network.

    Were there 5 Tiles at the Starbucks this morning? Your Tile app took note of them. Your cubicle mate left their Tiled keys at their desk during lunch while you worked straight through? Your Tile app knows that too, even if you and your cube mate don’t. The same will be true for your Tiles.

    If there’s a killer ingredient to the Tile, this is it: By leveraging the combined tracking power of thousands of Tile users (er, Tilers?), that paltry 150-foot Bluetooth radius is amplified many times over.

    It’s the same concept that smart-bike maker Vanhawks is using to let owners of its Valour bikes keep tabs on their wheels should their bike make an unauthorized trip somewhere without its owner.

    The Community Find method relies on people having the Tile app installed — and running — on their iOS device. If the app is closed, it cannot track the presence of Tiles. Evans realizes this could be an issue.

    “We’re working on ways to entice people to keep [the Tile app] open,” he says. “It would be easy to do push notifications, but these can get annoying. We don’t want to annoy people.”

    If you’re hoping to find your goodies, you’ll have the best chance of success if you live in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Houston. These, according to Nick Evans, are the top 5 cities in the world in terms of Tile ownership, though he declined to tell me exactly how many Tilers were in each location.

    Annual renewal

    The other drawback to the Tile is its non-user-replaceable battery. Because Tiles are sealed, which gives them a splash-proof exterior, there’s no way to access or replace any of its innards, including the battery. Tiles are only good for one year, after which Tile will get in touch to facilitate the return of your now-dead Tile and presumably give you the option to re-up for another year for another $20.

    This works out to about $1.66 per month per object tracked, on an indefinite basis. Is it worth it? I guess it depends on what you’re tracking and how often you think you might misplace it.

    While it may not seem like a good use of money for something mundane like a flashlight or a portable hard drive, it’s a bargain for parents who could sew a Tile into a child’s backpack, giving them a cheap alternative to other types of tracking devices. Similarly, you could hide a Tile under the seat of your bicycle (as I plan to do) making for a very inexpensive (if not perfect) LoJack system.

    Conclusion

    The $20 Tile is a device that does exactly what it claims: It helps you locate misplaced objects using your smartphone in a way that is easy and intuitive.

    For most people, even though the Tile is only effective for a year, it offers a convenient, expandable and soon — according to Evans — shareable way to track your most commonly lost articles.

    If, on the other hand, you’re main purpose in using the Tile is to track a stolen object in real-time, your mileage may vary.

    Because this use case only works in areas where the concentration of Tilers is sufficiently high, for now at least, most places are not going to offer you the Tile coverage needed for the Community Find method to work well enough for this.

    That said, if sales of Tiles continue at their current pace, it might not be long before most urban areas possess a very strong network of users.

    -Courtesy: VentureBeat

    Instagram’s New Hyperlapse App Makes Mobile Timelapse And Steady Video Capture Easy

    Instagram is building new apps that aim to do more with mobile photography, and today they’re launching Hyperlapse, which allows you to make timelapse videos using standard video captured with your smartphone camera on the fly. The Hyperlapse app launch closely follows the international launch of Bolt, Instagram’s Snapchat-style photo sharing app, but this one looks like it has more of the ingredients that made Snapchat such a success.

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    The app, which is due to be released at 10 AM PT today, offers iPhone users a way to make professional-looking timelapses without expensive photography equipment like pro cameras, steady-mounts or tripods, and takes advantage of image stabilization tech that makes use of movement data gathered by gyroscopes to mimic the effect of ultra-expensive motion stabilization software used by film studios, but using a fraction of the processor power to get it done.

    One impulse at Instagram was to build it into its existing app, but doing so would’ve hidden the functionality too much for those really eager to try it, and made it virtually invisible to the average user who might not realize they even want it, per Wired. To me, this sounds like Instagram learned a lesson from Instagram Video and Direct, and wanted to give this cool new tech the attention it deserved as its own app, where it stands a good chance of going viral rather than being adopted by just some of Instagram’s existing user community.

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    Instagram’s Hyperlapse is, like its original product, focused on       simplicity – the only thing that you can change about your captures is the speed of playback. You use a slider to control how fast the video you eventually share will play at, from standard 1x speed (i.e. the normal speed at which it was recorded) to 12x.

    Even at 1x, you get to take advantage of the advanced image stabilization techniques, but the same video is bound to produce an extremely different final effect depending on what playback speed you combine with the automatic stabilization effects.

    This looks to be one of the coolest new mobile apps released in a while, particularly from the Facebook/Instagram crowd. The app is live now for iPhone owners (Android users will have to wait for a later version, unfortunately), and we’ll soon post our impressions regarding this new stabilization tech and its effectiveness.

    -Courtesy: Techcrunch

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