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Wow, who would have thought that social networking would force its way into the world of console gaming. Well it has and can be accessed now even on the Xbox 360. Yep that's right, earlier today a few updated (and free) applications were released for the Xbox 360 (and Live Gold subscribers). The fun new stuff includes access to Facebook, Twitter, and a new version of the video marketplace called Zune Video. This last one allows you to view On-Demand 1080P HD video through your Xbox 360. You can even share your viewing with up to seven friends by using voice chat and what they call Avatar Integration.
The last of the new features is pretty nice but has a couple of tiny, little itty-bitty issues. This is Last.FM an internet connected radio stations (like Pandora) this allows you to create your own mix through the use of Bans, and Loves. The tiny problem we talked about is that it cannot run in the background.
In all the new updates, are interesting but I have to wonder how quickly they will lose their luster and become just another un-used thing on your console.
Facebook - Update your status to share what movie, game or entertainment you're enjoying, connect with friends and view their Facebook stream, status updates and photos on the big screen - all seamlessly integrated and custom-built for Xbox 360. You can even compare your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends lists to see which of your friends are on LIVE.
Zune - Zune video on Xbox LIVE offers a full fidelity experience with instant on HD in 1080p and 5.1 channel surround sound. No waiting for downloads or buffering, it's there at the press of a button. You can also share the experience with up to seven friends through voice chat and Avatar integration on the TV screen - it puts a whole new spin on "movie night."
Twitter - Stay in the know by discovering, posting and replying to Tweets right on your Xbox 360. You can even view friend profiles, trends and conversations, or search to see who's tweeting about your favorite game.
Last.fm - Discover more music and explore endless personalized radio stations with Last.fm on Xbox 360. Skip, "ban" or "love" tracks to create your perfect mix-we've even built in "Gamer Stations" with game-related types of music selected specifically for the gaming community (Available in the U.S. and UK)
In addition to these social features, Xbox LIVE will also be debuting "News and More," a new section of the "Inside Xbox" channel, transforming Xbox LIVE into a full-fledged media portal. With a regularly-updated stream of content from MSNBC, The New Yorker and Dilbert, "News and More"
brings the latest in current events, arts and entertainment right to your fingertips.
One of those rumors that just won't seem to die is the one about Apple producing a tablet computer. Many of us believe that when the Apple tablet finally breaks cover the thing will be something along the lines of a larger iPhone. A new patent app has turned up today that shows Apple has input methods other than multi touch in mind.
The patent app covers a system for pen-based input to a tablet computer that breaks down strokes and phrases. That is fancy talk for recognizing handwriting with digital ink. I would be surprised if multi touch wasn't a prominent feature in any Apple tablet that was introduced.
The patent application reads in part: "Upon the occurrence of an ink phrase termination event, the ink manager notifies the handwriting recognition engine and organizes the preceding ink strokes into an ink phrase data structure...The present invention, in large part, relates to the observation that client applications and handwriting recognition software in pen-based computer systems can make far more accurate ink-related decisions based on entire ink phrases, rather than individual ink strokes."
It's been discovered that Google's new Wave service will get its own App Store. For those of you that don't know, Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
What is a wave?
A wave is equal parts conversation and document.
People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
A wave is shared.
Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.
A wave is live.
With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.
With third party extensions of all kinds becoming available for the messaging platform by the bucketload via its App Store, this should really enhance the overall flexibility and capabilities of Wave beyond comprehension.
The most successful app store yet, the iPhone's, has just blown past the 100,000 approved iPhone app mark and clearly Google have taken notice with their own Android Marketplace. Despite Apple's success, it is undoubtedly Android who will win on numbers, with developers swayed by Google's open source values and the openness of the platform as a whole.
With an app store specifically for Google Wave however, the potential for something as great, if not greater then than the iPhone App Store is a distinct possibility. Already, independent software developers have built and tested Wave applications that handle such tasks as teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and multiplayer gaming, but while the Apple App Store sells software only for the iPhone and Touch, a Wave marketplace could stock in-Wave applications, along with desktop applications, browser extensions and a world of devices, from laptops, phones, tablets and more with built in Wave support.
A Google Wave Developer Preview video taken from Google I/O 2009 can be seen here :-
So the Zune HD launched over a month ago along with a new and improved version of the Zune Desktop and Marketplace. Just before the launch we heard the gang from Redmond telling us how they would stock their version of the App Store with incredible applications and games for the Tegra inside the Zune HD.
However one month later and we have not see even a single new game or App in the Zune Marketplace. This is highly disappointing and a sure way for Microsoft to lose the fight with Apple and their iPod Touch and iPhone. When we reviewed the Zune HD here we found the hardware and performance to be outstanding and more than a match for the Apple offerings (in many cases much better). The problem as we saw it then (and now) is that MS does a terrible job at follow on and marketing.
This is a perfect example; their decision (surely a marketing one) to keep their Marketplace closed has probably driven many developers away from it. Yet MS has not done anything to add to this area either. We do not see any of the graphically impressive 3D games we were promised before launch. We do not see anything.
MS needs to pull their collective heads out and get to work here or they will surely lose the PMP fight and very quickly. This is despite the far superior hardware they have with the Zune HD.
Android can now join the ranks of the iPhone. Not in terms of style, quality or performance. For the most part Android is pretty much equal to the iPhone OS and in many ways better. No today I am talking about being jailbroken.
Of course you do not call it jailbreaking for the Android OS, You call it rooting. This has always been possible but it has also always been out of most people's hands. Doing it has required more work than most thought it was worth.
However all that has changed, there is now a quick and easy method to open up your Android based phones. The App called Recovery Flasher can be downloaded from the Android market and all you so is run it, make a backup and then flash it to Cyanogen Recovery 1.4.
Now you have access to Full SD Backups, Tethering, OS upgrades or even loading a completely new OS.
In the war of the PMPs the big deal now is developing third party applications for the device. This is even more important than base functionality (but is still behind proper marketing).
So what do you do if you are trying to enter or get back in the game in the PMP space? We know that Apple has a very large number of mobile developers. This is evidenced by the large number of Apps in the iTunes App store. How do you tip the scale to your favor?
The plain and simple answer is money.
The is trend is being displayed in a rumor running around that Microsoft has been offering iPone developers money to port their apps over to the Zune HD. The going rumor is that a single Developer for a twitter application was approached by MS and offered a "bucket of money" to port his app over.
We also hear that Sony is courting them as well although there is much less detail on that rumor.
Although these are both unsubstantiated rumors, we could see two larger players actively going after the current crop of iPhone devs to get their own app stores rolling. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out moving forward.
Ok, this is just plain disturbing, funny yes, but in a seriously disturbing way.
Someone has decided to make an app for the iPhone that allows you to "track and share" your bowel movements with friends. Now I am not sure about you but if any of my friends starts telling me about their porcelain adventures they would not be a friend for too long.
But all that aside I want to know how in the world this app passed the morality police at Apple? I meant they want a dictionary to have a 17+ rating, Google Voice and Latitude are not good enough but they let an application by that is the definition of toilet humor with only a 9+ rating.
I wonder if applications are approved or disapproved by whoever walks in off the street on that day.
In what has to be the biggest "gee Mom see I ain't doing nothing wrong" move I have ever witnessed Apple revoked the publishing license of Perfect Acumen.
If you do not know the name you are sure to know the name of some of their better apps. Titles such as Top Sexy Ladies and Skin Care Updates these have filled the App store up with crap for a long time yet now Apple decides to take action.
Apple's stated reason is very clear for a change. It says that Perfect Acumen has had complaints filed against it for stealing other People's IP. Mostly this is in the form of reposting pictures for profit without getting the required rights.
Yet I have to wonder why now; is this the whitewash to try and cover up the issue with Google? I have to say that while I applaud the removal of some 900 useless apps from the clutter it will not be enough to close the books on the FTC and FCC investigations.
I often find the strangest things funny. For example I actually find it funny that Google is being stifled by Apple. I cannot really explain why; it is just funny.
Maybe it is because when using the iPhone I am stuck with Google Maps (unless I want to pay for another service). Or, that my only option for search is Google. Perhaps it is that Google and Apple have a shared director.
Still it is somewhat comical to see applications like Google Latitude and Google Voice get rejected by Apple. Apple's reasons for doing this? Well for Latitude Apple felt that people would confuse it with the current Map application. For Google voice it is that it duplicates existing iPhone functions.
Both are thin excuses at best, Latitude was probably not allowed because it competes (in a very small way) with a rumored Mobile Me product that Apple is working on for social networking and Google Voice is a direct threat to Apples single US Carrier AT&T. Google got around Latitude's rejection by turning it into a Web App, they will more than likely do something similar with Google Voice. So while this is an inconvenience to be sure, it is not a show stopper.
So fear not Google fans, you will see Google Voice on the iPhone; it will just be in another form.
In the end, I think what really makes me laugh is the slight chance that all of this App rejection is nothing more than a smoke screen for the Anti-Trust Investigation by the US DOJ into the shared directors between Apple and Google.
Food for thought...
Ok, I could not pass this one up. I saw this earlier in the day and thought, Meh I'll give it a pass. Now however I just cannot pass this one up.
After reading how one developer of a fart app compared his battle with Apple to the Civil Rights movement on the Daily Show I knew that this was not going to sit still.
I was right TUAW has way too much time on their hands and has put together a short video of 31 (yes 31) fart apps in a 90 second montage for the iPhone. I laughed so hard my sides are still hurting.
Have fun with this one and enjoy