Airbnb’s Android app just scored a significant refresh, including some major design tweaks and additional tools for hosts. Version 2.0 adds two features that should make it easier for property managers to interact with guests efficiently, including the ability to update calendar availability and pre-approve users from any compatible Android handset — that latter feature hit the iOS app in December. There are also quite a few bug fixes in tow, according to the release notes — push notifications should now be working, for example. The focus here is on host usability, however. According to a TechCrunch report, only five percent of hosts current use the Android app, and while these additions should streamline operation, they’re unlikely to account for a major shift from the web interface.
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Epson’s 3D display glasses, the Moverio BT-100 have been floating around as a development platform for a couple years, and APX Labs is the latest to hack the headset. APX Labs is a software firm best known for creating Terminator Vision augmented reality tech for the US military, and it decided to use the BT-100 as a vehicle to develop and showcase a smart glasses platform it’s built to work for both business and consumer applications. In order to get the functionality it needed, APX grafted a 5 megapixel camera, mic and a full suite of motion sensors to provide nine-axis head tracking onto a Moverio headset.
All that gear is shoved into a 3D-printed module and attached to the BT-100 to turn it into a pair of smart glasses. In addition to the cameras and sensors, APX also hacked an Epson daughter board onto the Moverio’s controller to allow an HDMI video feed from a smartphone to be shown on the displays. This result? A system that understands where you are, what you’re seeing and hearing and a UI that allows users to glean information from the world around them using voice commands and head gestures. That should sound familiar to fans of Google Glass, but by using Epson’s binocular displays, these smart glasses can convey depth in a way Mountain View’s monocle cannot. (Not to mention that Glass doesn’t even do AR apps… yet). The hardware we got to see was a crude prototype built for demo purposes only, but the software platform shows promise and Epson’s got a version two Moverio headset in the works — so perhaps you can see a bit of the future of smart glasses in the video after the break.
- Motion|Tech Meets Blog
Google recently announced Provo, UT and Austin, TX are on its list of Fiber expansions, and now it’s added another region near Kansas City. The city council of Shawnee, KS has voted to bring in the 1Gbps internet / TV combo, although Google isn’t ready to put a timetable on the rollout yet. We’re sure passed over Kansas City-area residents are happy to see Google Fiber has expanded its footprint a couple of times, but the rest of us are just as envious as ever.
Question by Allan: Can android apps easily be transformed into Iphone adds and the other way around? I’m wondering if I made an android app.. would it be easy to transform it to work on Iphones.. or would I need to program it from the ground again?
Answer by TimGenerally speaking – No, it’s not easy unless you planned from the start for portability.
iOS and Android do a lot of the same stuff in similar sort of ways, but the fundamentals of the languages and interface design structure is different enough the porting native apps has to basically be done from scratch. Lots of projects online have tried to find ways around this, for example you can code a simpler app as a web app and use cross-platform frameworks like PhoneGap. And note that different types of app pose different problems for porting, for example OpenGL ES is basically the same libraries in C and Java but the differences in language and objects will change how you organize things.
The best approach is to plan ahead. For new app projects it often makes sense to scale down and focus on one platform initially (iOS usually has the greatest potential for return), but you want to keep portability an option in how you choose to organize and code the app from the initial architectural and design stages.
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Short of serving the popcorn, Magisto’s editing app can take care of the video production needs for the busy (or artistically challenged), including helping with music choices, chopping it all together and even distributing it across video albums. However, one sorely lacking feature was the ability to include photos, which the developer has just rectified in its latest update with a “smart photo feature.” After you pick your images, the system’s algorithms “choose the most compelling moments within the pictures and videos, and automatically marry them in a narrative format,” according to Magisto — even matching photo and video subject matter via AI. From there, it’ll add graphical themes, music and transitions to fill out the movie while you tend to more pressing matters. The iOS version is now at the App Store with an Android release arriving shortly, and the company said it’ll soon add morphing, image foreground / background separation and other effects. If you want more than the five images the freebie version offers, you’ll need to pay $ 18 a year for the premium app — but all that extra free time should let you go earn the bucks to pay it off.
Filed under: Software
While some of us try to avoid mainstream media and the accompanying Things You Should Be Afraid Of Today reporting, sometimes we need a place to go for 24/7 coverage of a disabled cruise ship, and CNN is always there. Now it’s there on Android too, after launching live streaming of both CNN and HLN on iOS back in 2011 a new update for its Android phone app has brought the feature (and the classic “This is CNN” greeting by James Earl Jones) to the platform. You’ll still need to be a subscriber to a participating cable TV service to actually watch the feed, but getting your dose of Anderson Cooper on the go is as simple as inputting your account details, and then you’re set. Feature parity — who doesn’t love it? (Android tablet owners, Windows 8 users, Symbian…)
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Microsoft is unveiling some updates to Windows Phone 8 this week. After adding SD card support for Windows Phone 8 earlier this year, Redmond is taking things a step further to support app installations from microSD. Aligning itself with Android, Windows Phone 8 users will now be able to download Windows Phone 8 apps and transfer them to microSD card for manual install. This is particularly useful if you need to swap devices or simply want to keep a backup of the apps you use regularly. However, this feature doesn’t let you install apps to the microSD card itself.
An installation and reinstallation feature of Windows Phone is also getting improvements this week. The web store for Windows Phone 8 is now available in 37 countries…
Buried amongst Nintendo America’s amusing (and often silly) Direct presentation from today comes news of the next iteration of its popular lifestyle experience: Wii Fit U. Outside of a few brief screens and a very vague first half of 2013 release window, not much is known about the updated title save for one bit — an included pedometer. Functioning much like the Fitbit, this additional peripheral will, presumably, be clipped to users’ clothing, gathering movement data that will eventually be transferred to the Wii U console. Health-tracking is fast becoming a crowded space, so it’s no surprise the Big N would want to extend that plastic scale’s functionality with some real-world info. We’ll keep you updated on any further news as it’s released.
Filed under: Gaming
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Skype for Android just got a serious update, for the first time giving Microsoft’s VOIP app a true tablet interface. On top of the UI changes, version 3.0 also lets you log in and merge with your Microsoft account, and adds support for Skype’s SILK wideband audio codec. The company says it gives you the optimal voice quality that your connection can sustain. It’s too bad a separate portrait layout isn’t part of the package (the app stays locked in landscape), but we’re just glad to see such a popular application being rescued from stretched-out phone app status.
Bestbuy’s CinemaNow has started to embed UltraViolet content into their video-streaming service. It’s no huge surprise — given that the retailer is a founding member of DECE — but a good sign for anyone shoring up a collection of discs with UV digital content. CinemaNow identified compatible content with an Ultraviolet icon (seen above), while the service continues to gradually upgrade its SD content to big-screen friendly full HD. According to some early users, there’s some teething issues with links to UV versions, however, suggesting CinemaNow’s still tweaking the setup.