Entries in App (14)


Apple's App Gap May Disappear

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple faces challenges on two fronts in the near future -- from Google and in the courts.

The tech company’s big competitive advantage may soon disappear. Within months, Apple may no longer be the world’s most popular platform for smartphone apps.

The Financial Times reports Apple “has used its superior apps presence to retain a competitive edge over smartphone rivals.” But with recent gains in popularity for Samsung and Google-owned Motorola phones more developers are creating new apps for Android devices.

About 50 billion apps have been downloaded for Apple’s mobile devices. Last month, Google reported an all-time total of 48 billion downloads for Android phones and tablets.

Additionally, the government and Apple are set to square off over accusations of e-book price fixing. The Justice Department sued Apple last year, claiming it conspired with five major book publishers to raise prices for electronic books shortly before the introduction of the iPad in 2010.

The government says comments from former Apple CEO Steve Jobs help prove their case. Apple lawyers argue the allegations are based on “faulty assumptions and unfounded conclusions.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


At SXSW, New Sex App Focuses on that Other Type of Festival Networking

Hemera/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- At SXSW Interactive this year one sex-related start-up knows their audience, and they are marketing to the techie and social media savvy, yet carefree and sexually amped crowd.    

The service doesn’t need much explanation, thanks to its very blunt name. Bang with SXSW is a spin-off of Bang with Friends, a service that launched last month to much Internet scrutiny, criticism and excitement.

Started by three young twenty-somethings, Bang with Friends allows you to sign into the service via Facebook and then select the friends of the opposite sex you’d like to, well, bang. If that friend also selects you, you will both receive a notification that the other is “down to bang.” Forget match-making, this is Internet sex-making.

“SXSW is just a place for people to meet other amazing people and usually some of those people have sex and hook up,” the founder of Bang with Friends, who prefers to be identified right now as C, told ABC News. “We thought, how can we make that a better experience for everyone?”

Since launching at the end of January, “Bang with Friends” has gained 750,000 users and according to C, there have been 180,000 successful pairings. Not that they confirm the actual sex acts: “We don’t follow them into the bedroom no,” C said.

The main service, while controversial in many regards, requires that you are friends on Facebook. The company says that that ensures people are using information they are already sharing with friends; it just allows friends to discreetly see if the other is sexually interested in them.

The SXSW version of the site, however, shows all the people who have registered for the service at the event; you don’t have to be friends on Facebook to select someone you might want to “bang” in Austin for the next few days.

“Bang with SXSW” isn’t just trying to make sure SXSW attendees “bang,” it is also focused on promoting safer sex in Austin this week and is marketing the site by handing out thousands of condoms across the city.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Google Updates iPhone Maps So You Can Find Places, Friends

Google(NEW YORK) -- Have you ever gone to a new city and had trouble finding your way around, cursing as you look at pages upon pages of search results to find a restaurant for dinner or just a quick place to grab a cup of coffee and a Danish?

Google hopes to lend a helping hand.

On Tuesday, Google announced an update for its Google Maps app for iPhone to include new search icons that, the company said, will make it easier to find places and look up saved friends’ addresses. Released Tuesday morning, it can now be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

These features have been available already for Android, but iPhone users had to look up the address of a specific destination, and type it into the search bar. Now, users will be presented with icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars and gas stations, which they can tap to search quickly for nearby locations.

In total, there are 13 different types of places users can search by, including hotels, hospitals and ATMs.

“So if you’re in a rush and need a quick coffee, just tap the search box, then the coffee cup icon, to see the cafes closest to you,” Google said in a blog post.

The new update also makes it possible for users to look up their friends’ addresses by typing their names in the search box. If users have saved their friends’ addresses in Google Contacts, the app will show them in the search results.

The update also integrated Google Contacts into the Google Maps app. This means users who have their friends’ addresses saved in their Google Contacts can now look up where their friends live by simply typing a friend’s name in the app’s search box. The address will then pop up on the map, making it easy to get to that Saturday night house party.

This is the first major update to the Google Maps app since it was released in December.  The road to a user-friendly maps feature has been far from smooth for iPhone and other iOS devices.

When Apple released the iPhone 5 and its iOS operating system in September, it replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app. However, widespread criticism over glitches, including misplaced historic places of interest and jumbled locations, forced the company to bring back Google’s mapping service.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Tweeting After Death? There's an App for That

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For those who feel their daily musings merit a global audience, there's Twitter.  But for those who feel the world couldn't spin on without their 140-character pieces of genius if some tragedy should befall them, there's an app called LivesOn.

The about-to-launch app sends "ghost tweets" from dead hosts' accounts by using artificial intelligence to analyze pre-existing posts from a user's feed and then posting what topics the deceased tweeter would likely post about, or which articles the users would send along to others.

Or, as the company's slogan puts it, "When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting. Welcome to your social after life."

The app goes live in March.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Girl Scouts Go Mobile with Cookie Finder App

Girl Scouts(NEW YORK) -- Girl Scout cookie sales have gone high-tech with a new cookie finder app for iPhone and Android devices.

The free app allows cookie aficionados to find the nearest cookie booth and meet the 16 cookie varieties for sale. It also provides tips on how to interact with the Girl Scouts.

It’s the first year the $790 million Girl Scout cookie operation, the largest girl-led business in the world, has entered the mobile sphere.

The app requires only a few clicks before cookie lovers are put in touch with a list of the nearest places to buy Thin Mints, Samoas or whatever other cookies they’re craving.

Locations can be found using a smartphone’s built-in GPS or by entering a ZIP code. Cookie shoppers should indicate how far they’re willing to travel and when they want to buy their favorite cookies.

The app allows users to sort through the search results by location and date.

The annual cookie sale is designed to teach girls such skills as goal-setting, decision-making, money management, business ethics and people skills, according to the organization.

The core values of the cookie sale aren’t lost in the app, which also offers tips on how to do business with a Girl Scout.

“Please don’t call me cute,” one tip says. “We’re learning how to run a business. We want you to buy cookies because you want them and respect what we’re learning, not because of our nice haircut or uniform.”

And for cookie lovers looking to venture beyond the ever-popular Thin Mints, the app encourages them to ask about the cookie inventory.

“We have a lot of cookies to tell you about,” the app says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


A Facebook Phone? Company Testing Voice Apps Now

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is building a phone right in front of our faces. Maybe not a real phone, but all the apps and features you'd expect one to have.

Facebook has just added a voice message feature to its Messenger app for iOS and Android. Within the app you can now send a recording to your friends. If you've downloaded the new update you can tap the + button next to the box where you input a message, then tap Record, speak your message and then send it off.

But that's only the start of the voice capabilities Facebook is thinking about. In Canada, Facebook is testing live calls using Voice over IP (VoIP) calling similar to Skype. If you have the iPhone app and live in Canada you can tap the "i" button in the corner of the app and tap "Free Call." You can then make a free call to a Facebook friend who is using the same app. You can't call landline or cellphone numbers.

The system can work over 3G and 4G cellular networks, but it's cheaper if you use Wi-Fi. If you are on a cellular network it will eat at your data plan.

Facebook didn't make a big announcement about the services, but it's a very big move for the social networking company. While Facebook declined to comment on whether it would come to the U.S. or if they could charge for the service, it is a step into voice calling for the company. Not only could that be ultimately disruptive for cellular carriers that offer monthly calling packages, it represents an alternative revenue stream for Facebook.

This is just one of many mobile announcements Facebook has made in the past few months. It upgraded both its iPhone and Android apps to make them faster and it released is new Poke app, which destroys messages 10 seconds or less after you look at them.

In addition to its main app and its Poke app, Facebook also has a Facebook Camera app. You'll also recall that Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012.

Rumors of a Facebook branded phone have swirled around for quite a while now. The New York Times and AllThingsD both reported that the company had internal plans to build its own hardware. However, Mark Zuckerberg denied the rumor in July.

"There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren't really taking, that aren't really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn't make much sense for us to do," he said on an earnings call.

That might make sense, but with all of its apps and now voice features, it sure looks like Facebook is transforming our phones into Facebook phones or it's building its own right in front of our faces.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Facebook Poke App: Messages Self-Destruct Within 10 Seconds

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sometimes, for some people, a text message can just be too permanent. It's for those times and those people that Facebook has put out its new Poke app.

The standalone app for the iPhone lets you log in with your Facebook account and message or "poke" a friend, but they need to read it quickly -- each message self-destructs after a specific time set by the sender.

When you send the message from the app, it prompts you to set an expiration time on it. You have a choice of one, three, five, or 10 seconds. "When time runs out, the message disappears from the app," said Facebook in a blog post. You can include a photo or video in the message. You can also take a screenshot of the message if you need more time, but it will tell the sender that you did so.

The app, Facebook says, is supposed to bring the poking functionality of the Web to mobile devices. "The poke feature has been a part of Facebook since 2004. Now we're excited to share a new poke experience for mobile," Facebook said on its blog Friday.

A similar app, called Snapchat, has been around for the iPhone and has sometimes been called the safe sexting app. The premise is that inappropriate or racy messages or photos will self-destruct and won't be left in your chat history.

Facebook says that's not the idea of the new app. "This is a light way and fun way to connect with your friends. Our usual terms and rights will apply and we hope people share responsibly," Jessie Baker, a Facebook spokesperson, told ABC News.

The Poke app is available now in the Apple App Store for free. Luckily you have more than 10 seconds to download it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Flickr App for iPhone Goes After Instagram

Yahoo(NEW YORK) -- Eighty-five million photo sharing users just got some new tools.

On Wednesday, Yahoo released an update for its Flickr iPhone and iOS apps with several new features, including new ways to find and view photos, apply filters to photos, improved sharing capability and camera editing tools.

Markus Spiering, Head of Product for Flickr, says the update aims to provide an entire photo solution.

"The goal was to build something that is beautiful and easy to use," he says.

The app allows users to share images via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and email, as well as add data such as titles, captions and locations.  One can tap on an icon to see information from an image such as the shutter speed and camera used to take it.  The app provides some new tools to let you modify your image -- you can adjust the focus or crop and resize it, for example, or choose from 16 new camera filters.

From an iPhone, one can tap the "Contacts" tab to see photos uploaded by friends and connections, or tap the "Groups" tab to see images arranged in categories, such as "Food and Art."

"We put photos first," says Spiering, whose team spent the last several months developing the update.  "We want the user to enjoy and experience photos in the highest quality possible."

For example, tilt the iPhone to one side and the app displays a full-screen version of the image you are looking at.  To maintain the best possible quality, the app works in the background to load a hi-resolution version of the photo.

Flickr's app update and photo filter additions come on the heels of Twitter and Instagram's battle.  Instagram, which has become the hot new photo sharing service and is now owned by Facebook, stopped allowing photos to appear embedded in tweets.  A day later, Twitter released new iPhone and Android apps that allow users to apply filters to their photos and make small edits right from the Twitter app.

For now, the update is available for iOS only.  The iPhone, according to Spiering, is the most popular camera for Flickr users, so it made sense to develop the update for iOS users first.  Yahoo, which bought Flickr in 2005, also released updates for its Yahoo Mail apps on Tuesday.

Spiering says Flickr wants to make the updated version available across all platforms in the near future.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yahoo Buys Justin Bieber-Backed Start-Up

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has given a Justin Bieber-backed company her stamp of approval.  In fact, Mayer liked it so much, she bought it -- her very first acquisition since taking the reins in July.

Yahoo purchased the mobile app Stamped, which was founded in 2011 and is based in New York, for about $10 million.

The purchase vibes with Mayer’s stated goal during the company’s third-quarter earnings call of becoming “a predominantly mobile company.”

“At some point at least half our technical workforce should be working on mobile,” she said.

Mayer verified the acquisition on Twitter with an Instagram photo from Stamped headquarters.

“Got to visit our new acquisition, Stamped, this morning — happy to be reunited with Robby (@rmstein) and his team,” Mayer tweeted last week.

Stamped -- which is backed by a gaggle of celebrity investors, including Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest and Justin Bieber, along with Bain Capital Ventures, Columbia Records, Google Ventures, and The New York Times Company -- lets users keep track of and recommend things like restaurants, books and music to friends online.  Its app was first launched last November.

In a statement about the acquisition, Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of emerging products and technology, noted that mobile is becoming one of the company’s “most important priorities” and that it is “accelerating our efforts to build a world-class team of mobile engineers, product managers and designers.”

Stamped founders said that the start-up will be creating “a new product and engineering office for Yahoo in New York City’s Bryant Park,” but declined to specify what it is.

Stamped’s iPhone and web app will both be discontinued by the end of the year.

ABC News has a content-sharing partnership with Yahoo.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LovePalz App: A Sex Toy with Wi-Fi

WINZZ, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- When Oni Chen went off to the London College of Communication where he did his dissertation on apps, he said he missed his girlfriend terribly -- especially their sex life.

So Chen, a 27-year-old marketing major from Taiwan, came up with a novel idea to experience intimacy long distance. He invented LovePalz, a gender-appropriate sex toy that conveniently works with an iPhone or other mobile device. Talk about phone sex.

Chen describes it as a "Wi-Fi-connected love machine that lets both the top and the bottom stimulate some sexy time."

The two gadgets -- Hera, which is designed for women; and Zeus, more for males -- produce sensation and motion "in real time" via an Internet connection, according to the LovePalz website.

"When I was studying abroad, my girlfriend and I were apart and had a long-distance relationship, sex wasn't something we could achieve," he told "So I thought, why can't we have something that can help us spike up our relationship when we are not around each other?"

All it takes, apparently, is a smartphone and $95 for the two devices. The app has a video conference function, too.

"It doesn't really work, if you don't see each other," said Chen. The device is "controlled through your action," and responds to the movement of the lover on the other phone.

"Mobile devices are just a tool to communicate," he said. "The concept is to stimulate virtual sex -- to feel as real as possible."

But Joanne Cantor, a University of Wisconsin psychologist who specializes in the stressful aspects of the digital revolution, said LovePalz could be a poor substitute for the real deal.

"It's probably a novelty thing and you try it once," she said. "I can just visualize the person holding the phone in one hand and the device in the other hand. How sexy does that feel?"

"My thinking is this would be probably not work very well and kind of reflects what's going on in technology," said Cantor, author of the 2009 book Conquer CyberOverload.

Would the app be used, like other online pornography, with a stranger, rather than the spouse? "There is a great general tendency toward moving away from full communication to something less complete," she said.

Cantor hails Skype as a worthy invention that brings families together, but said texting rather than talking, and Facebooking rather than meeting with real friends, can be dehumanizing.

"As our gadgets get smaller and smaller and work everywhere, they can dominate your life," she said. "Unless you are aware and make some decisions, they will control every minute of your life."

Chen readily admits the app has not been approved or even submitted to Apple for its App Store, nor has the device yet been manufactured. His website concedes that Kickstarter, a fundraising site for new ventures, has declined to help. Still, he says his company has already received 2,432 orders from the United States and around the globe.

But, he told, "We are ready. Theoretically and practically it works." Chen continues to ask for "donations" and doesn't require payment until his company can deliver devices by January of 2013

So for now, the LovePalz website enthusiastically describes Chen's vision: a "streamlined" metallic device that will give "long lasting" pleasure.

"Even if your hands sweat, it will not slip away, and it is very easy to wash if it gets dirty," says the site. "The device's fully water proof design allows it to function perfectly in water."

The device boasts "multiple pressure and speed sensors" to transmit his-and-her reactions via an Internet connection.

But is that enough to salvage a long-distance relationship?

"People have lots of opinions," said Chen, defending LovePalz. "But we think it can actually help a lot of couples and maybe even reduce their risk of cheating when they feel lonely or bored."

Chen reports that sadly, his steady girlfriend is no longer around. Maybe the device could have kept the long-distance lovers together?

"Probably, maybe," he said. "But maybe not."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio