Apple could be ditching Google as its default search engine, report says

Ipad-google
News broke last week that Yahoo would replace Google as the default search engine on Firefox browsers. Now another — more powerful — company might also be ditching Google.

Apple’s contract with Google is almost up, and in 2015 the Cupertino tech giant will be free to nix another connection with perhaps it greatest competitor in favor of another option, according to The Information.

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Google Launches Interactive Games on Times Square’s Biggest Billboard Ever

Content marketers are taking it to the streets – and to stadiums, subways, and bus stops. With the vast majority of marketers using content to build their brands, it’s no wonder marketers are expanding the ways their content gets delivered.

Experiential marketing is nothing new — from billboards to sandwich boards, brands have a history of engaging consumers outside their homes. In recent years, however, out-of-home media spend has been among the fastest-growing categories – global spend is expected to exceed $40 billionn by 2018, according to PWC. The large canvas, the emergence of digitally powered signage, and the hyper-local nature of outdoor advertising have all contributed to the growth. Still, while the format may be known, today’s top marketers are innovating they way they use experiential marketing to tell their brand stories.

Connect your experiences.

Like all digital campaigns, the best ones move seamlessly across screens, formats, and platforms. When Qualcomm took over this bus stop for its “Born Mobile” campaign, the brand interwove print, mobile, and out-of-home to give unwitting bus takers the ride of their lives. The experience was very share-worthy: this video compilation of the stunt has racked up more than 3.7M views. Continue reading

Amid Uber controversy, taxi-hailing app Flywheel raises $12M, adds new management

Flywheel

At the end of Uber’s first full day of PR wreckage on Tuesday, one of my bosses announced she was downloading taxi-hailing app Flywheel and deleting Uber’s app — like many have tweeted they have done.

But while ride-sharing competitor Lyft has likely received a publicity bump from Uber’s massive fumble, it’s likely no one’s benefiting more from this right now than Flywheel. Today, the company is announcing a new round of funding, to the tune of $12 million, which it will undoubtedly use to maximize on this opportunity Uber has given it.

The company also has a new chief executive, Rakesh Mathur, as well as a new chief technology officer and chief financial officer.

Unlike Uber, or even competitors Lyft and Sidecar, Flywheel is not an alternative to taxis. It merely outfits licensed taxis with the same technology. Cab drivers join Flywheel’s network, and in exchange for 10 percent of their proceeds, enjoy the benefits of access to Flywheel’s customer base.

And Flywheel can be a fairly easy sell to consumers — just as with ride-sharing apps, users can call, or hail, a car from their smartphone, track when and where it will arrive, and pay within the app without having to worry about carrying cash (as a San Franciscan, I can say that’s one of the biggest conveniences, as many cab drivers here refuse to take credit cards).

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Amazon to Launch New Hotel Booking Competitor

Orbitz and Expedia, beware. Amazon is prepping to add hotel rooms to the seemingly infinite list of things you can purchase in “the Everything Store.”

According to the travel industry news site Skift, Amazon has been reaching out to hoteliers in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle to be included in a new Amazon Travel program, an extension that would feature a highly-curated list of independent hotels. Hoteliers who partner with Amazon Travel will be able to upload their property’s information, pricing and availability in exchange for the standard 15% commission fee for any bookings acquired through the site.

Amazon is hoping to bring onboard independent and boutique hotels that may not have the marketing resources to compete with large hospitality chains. According to one hotelier who was approached for a partnership, Amazon Travel will only feature a select number of properties for each city, making it a highly coveted partnership for hotels eager for a prominent spot on one of the most-visited websites in the world.

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Amazon Launches Aurora, A High-Performance Relational Database Service

At its re:Invent developer conference in Las Vegas, Amazon today announced Aurora, a new relational database service the company built from the ground up. As Amazon’s Andy Jassy, the head of the company’s cloud services platform, noted in today’s keynote, the company has been working on this project for over three years now.

As enterprises move to the cloud, they also want to move their databases, but in order to avoid having to pay for expensive licenses, they often choose open source tools like MySQL or Postgres. To get those to perform well, though, is hard. So Aurora is a fully MySQL compatible database service that allows you to migrate data into the service easily.

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Why I’m a remote CEO

Why I’m a remote CEO

But I don’t live and work in San Francisco. In fact, I’m based one state (and an entire universe) away in Sedona, Arizona. Why did I choose to be a remote CEO and what does it mean for my company’s growth?

Silicon Valley may be the center of the startup universe, but that doesn’t mean the CEO, or anyone else, has to be physically present there. We use web-based communication and collaboration tools to stay in touch, manage goals and progress, and set strategy. At this point, just about any SaaS startup can run its operations using Zoom, Google Apps, and employee feedback software.

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A Better Camera

What is A Better Camera

A Better Camera is a camera application that attempts to emulate a DSLR-like experience by giving you plenty of controls and options. It’s for Android 4.3 and up if you want all of the features and offers quite a few features. It’s currently free in the Google Play Store with in app purchases.

The app works essentially like every other camera app. You can point and shoot like normal and you can choose a variety of settings such as multi-shot, panorama, as well as ISO and white balance (on devices that support that). It also comes with HDR for both pictures and video. Most of these features are available for devices under Android 4.3 but things like the HDR video capture is only for Android 4.3 and up.

The interface is clean with frosted icons so the focus on the screen is always on whatever your camera is pointing at. There are various gestures and swipes you can do to gain access to settings or get them out of the way for clearer shots. The features all seem to work well on most devices although many people will be bottlenecked by the hardware on their devices.

A Better Camera review

It may very well be a better camera app.

PROS
  • A solid list of features that include white balance, ISO, HDR (image and video), Multishot, panorama, and night mode.
  • Clean UI that is easy to use.
  • Extra stuff like burst, expo-bracketing, and different kinds of focus are nice touches.
  • Free to use with in app purchases so you can try before you buy.
CONS
  • Not all these features will work on all devices or all versions of Android.
  • Bugs you to install editor software which a lot of people (including me) found annoying.
  • Bugs reported here and there.
Overall, it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a new camera app. It’s free with in app purchases so you can try it before buying anything. It doesn’t bring all that much to the table but it is a simplified and solid option in comparison to a lot of other camera apps out there.
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